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‘No one is going to catch’ Max Verstappen, says Mercedes boss Toto Wolff

Just four races into the Formula One season, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes the title is Max Verstappen’s to lose after another dominant win for the Red Bull driver.

At the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday, three-time world champion Verstappen finished 13 seconds ahead of teammate Sergio Pérez, who was eight seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz in third.

It was defending champion Verstappen’s third win of the season, putting him 13 points ahead of Pérez in the driver standings.

Last month, Sainz won the Australian Grand Prix when Verstappen was forced to retire from the race. That was the first time in two years that the 26-year-old Red Bull driver had retired from a race.

“No one is going to catch Max this season. His driving and the car are just spectacular,” Wolff said at Suzuka, per Reuters.

“Basically, this season now is best of the rest … Hopefully, we catch up to the McLaren and then the Ferraris and fight for P2. This is what it is this year.”

Toto Wolff was left lamenting Mercedes' slow start to the season after the Japanese Grand Prix. - Clive Mason/Getty Images
Toto Wolff was left lamenting Mercedes' slow start to the season after the Japanese Grand Prix. - Clive Mason/Getty Images

The recent struggles of Wolff’s Mercedes team continued at the weekend as George Russell finished seventh and seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was ninth.

That leaves Mercedes fourth in the constructor standings behind McLaren, Ferrari, and back-to-back champion Red Bull.

“If your expectation is to eventually race for wins and championships, then you can say we are in a bit of a no man’s land,” said Wolff.

“We are in this bunch but it is not satisfying … If I was to look for a pure sporting point of view, it is P1 that matters, not P2 or P3 or P4.”

The F1 season resumes with the Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on April 21.

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