In Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Max Verstappen lapped seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, highlighting the current performance gap between Mercedes and Red Bull.

The event, however, did not come as a surprise to Verstappen, nor did it thrill the defending world champion.

Verstappen also avoided taking a shot at his championship opponent, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who squandered a podium finish just ten laps from the finish line after he ran out at Imola’s Variante Alta and had to pit for a new front wing.

“It is what its is,” said the reigning champion refering to Mercedes. “They’ve been slow all year so it’s not really a surprise.”

Refering to Leclerc’s mistake in Imola, Verstappen said: “The mistake is easily done because he was pushing hard to try and fight Checo but it is painful.”

“I think he knows that himself, he doesn’t need to hear it from anyone in here.”

“But still it is such a long championship and yes we gained a lot of points so it is not great [for him] but he cannot change it now and he didn’t do it on purpose.”

Verstappen’s 34-point haul in Italy has vaulted him into second place in the Drivers’ standings, 27 points behind Leclerc, and reignited his title hopes. However, the 24-year-old admits to being taken aback by Red Bull’s superior pace on Ferrari’s home circuit.

“Melbourne wasn’t great for us and the start of the season in general wasn’t amazing,” he said. “So we needed a good weekend.

“I didn’t expect it to be like this, but of course, when you have a weekend, at the end of the day, like this, that’s incredible. A one-two for the team and also maximum points scored.”

“The way we handled the race, we didn’t make any mistakes, the team made the right calls with switching from the intermediates to the slicks and from then on just controlled the race.

“It might look easy on the TV but we still have to be focused, avoid the backmarkers as it is easy to go off-line or to lock up or go over a wet patch and go over the track.

“So we managed that and the car was handling really well, we saw that yesterday with the sprint qualifying, we had good pace in the car.”

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