Barcelona (AP) - On the route of his first Formula 1 victory, Max Verstappen wants to underpin his role as challenger to six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.

While the defending champion and front runner for the Silver Arrows is already expecting the next challenge, Verstappen is still reluctant because this time harder tire compounds are being supplied than they were last at Silverstone.

“I don't expect any miracles there,” said Verstappen, referring to the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The 22-year-old's win at Silverstone last Sunday was no wonder, or at least a big surprise. Verstappen and his Red Bull got along much better with the tires than Hamilton and his Finnish team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

In addition, the course at Barcelona is considered quite demanding for the rubbers. Pirelli's race director Mario Isola has already warned: “The expected high temperatures in Barcelona in mid-August will increase thermal wear. And on a course that is known for being tough on the tires. " The fact that Verstappen and his team can strategically make the right decisions when it comes to handling the tires was most recently demonstrated in Verstappen's victory in front of the perplexed Mercedes duo Hamilton and Bottas.

"According to the weather forecast, it should be even hotter in Barcelona, ​​so we don't have much time to understand the problems," emphasized Mercedes' chief race engineer Andrew Shovlin. Otherwise Hamilton's 30 point lead on Verstappen threatens to decrease.

The Dutch challenger knows how to win on the circuit in Catalonia and exploit Mercedes problems: he won there in 2016 and was named the youngest Grand Prix winner at the age of 18 years and 228 days, after Hamilton and his stable rival Nico Rosberg each other drove into the cars and retired.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 200811-99-131591 / 2

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