‘It’s not necessary’: Max Verstappen reacts to George Russell accusation

George Russell has argued that Red Bull isn’t showing its true pace to avoid the FIA stepping in to make racing more competitive.

With Red Bull having secured all three race wins of the season so far, their rivals throughout the paddock are worried that their clear pace advantage over the rest of the field could be insurmountable.

At the Australia Grand Prix, despite a tough start that saw Max Verstappen get overtaken by Lewis Hamilton and George Russell on lap one of the race, the Dutchman regained the lead by lap 12, cruising off into the distance for the remainder of the race.

Giving himself a significant gap to the next car on track mean Verstappen was untroubled until a late red flag brought the grid back together for a restart with only a few laps to go.

Russell believes that Verstappen could have even more in the tank though, intentionally hiding the RB19’s true capabilities on the track.

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“For sure they’re holding back,” Russell told the BBC’s Chequered Flag podcast.

“I think they are almost embarrassed to show their full potential because the faster they seem, the more that the sport is going to try and hold them back somehow.”

Verstappen has pushed back on these claims though, arguing his calm approach in Melbourne was designed to save his tyres when there was no need to take risks.

“I think anyway, there’s nothing really they can do,” the Dutchman said.

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“I mean, we just try to do the best we can with the development of the car, but it’s also about pace management.

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“I think no-one really knew how long that Hard tyre would last, so it’s about just bringing it home because we had a bit of pace I think over the others.

“There’s no need to try and gain half a second a lap and destroy your tyres to the end because you never know, a Safety Car can happen, red flags, like we had today. So yeah, it’s not necessary to risk all that,” he added

Verstappen looked on course for a third world championship, pulling away from his teammate and giving himself a strong lead over the next non-Red Bull driver in the title race.