Wolff: Verstappen can win 2021 F1 title but faces 'new challenge' vs. Hamilton

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits Max Verstappen can beat Lewis Hamilton to this year's Formula 1 championship.

After two wins in three races, the Red Bull driver had opened up a 12-point lead over the seven-time world champion, a gap that could have been even bigger without the events of Baku.

However, while it is the first time in his F1 career that Verstappen finds himself leading from the front, he insists that doesn't bother him.

“To be honest I don’t think about it too much,” the Dutchman told Crash.net.

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“People keep telling me that I am [in the lead], and I know that I am, but when I’m at home I’m not thinking about that.

“I just want to go to the next race and try to win again. I know that’s not always possible, but of course, we try as a team every single weekend to get the best out of it.”

That said, the Mercedes boss is doing all he can to make Verstappen feels the pressure of fighting for the title.

“Yes, he can do it. However, he still makes small mistakes because he is young,” Wolff said of Max becoming champion.

“His speed and driving control is excellent, but when you’re not allowed to make any mistakes at all because Lewis is driving at the height of his ability, then you add a new challenge that he doesn’t yet know in Formula 1.

“Being a chaser is much easier because of that. That’s why the situation suits us.”

While this might be Verstappen's first championship rodeo, for Red Bull it certainly is not and it is that which Max is counting on to help keep him in the battle.

“Of course experience over the years helps but I also think once you have a good car, everything becomes that little bit easier and nicer to work with,” he explained.  

“The pressure is still on in the race, especially when you have a close battle with Mercedes to make the right calls. But I think overall, everyone knows what they have to do and we have been trying to get to this place already for a few years.

"The team showed in the past they can do it and we are more or less back to where we want to be. Of course, it’s never perfect, and we still want to be more competitive, but you can see there are people in the team who are very experienced in this role as well, so it helps a lot.”

As for how he sees the head-to-head with Hamilton and Mercedes playing out, Verstappen was pretty clear after his victory at the French GP.

“As you could see, the whole race we were fighting each other," he said. "I think it will be like this for the rest of the season.” Buckle up!