Mercedes, Hamilton see Verstappen as F1 title rival after Silverstone win

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Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton both see Max Verstappen as a threat for this year's Formula 1 championship after his win at Silverstone on Sunday.

In a race dominated by tyres, the Dutchman was simply too strong for the German manufacturer as he ended their 100% winning start to 2020 and gave Red Bull their first win in Britain since 2012.

After the race, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff warned such defeats should be what their rivals "fear" as it only motivates them to improve.

But at the same time, he also thinks last weekend ended the notion of this year simply being a two-horse race between Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

"I think we have," he said on if Mercedes had a fight on their hands.

"I kind of enjoy the situation because everybody was saying this was going to be a walk in the park for Mercedes, and here we go. That wasn't all a walk in the park.

"We were certainly not the quickest car, maybe not even the second quickest car [on Sunday].

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"We have seen in the past that the hot conditions somehow don't suit our car but it is much more complex than that. I am actually up for the challenge," he added.

"We have, probably, the quickest package but the quickest package also includes the most downforce and the most downforce works the tyres hardest, so in that respect, we have to learn to tune the car to help the tyres to survive a little bit.

"I am really curious to see, interested to see how we are going to do in Barcelona. We have a handful of days to understand and there is nothing better than a great challenge."

Asked about the prospect of a Hamilton/Verstappen duel for the rest of the season, Wolff continued...

"I think for Formula 1, it would be very exciting, but also for us as a team. We embrace the challenge and we love to fight," he said.

"They are a strong competitor and Max is a good driver. If you consider that they had a full DNF at the beginning of the season, that gap is not large, they would only be five points behind and not 30.

"We are up for a fight and it looks like this will be a tough season."

However: "I wouldn't write off Valtteri," the Austrian insisted.

"There are maybe 10 more races to go. DNF's can quickly make the points swing and it could be much more interesting than many people were afraid of two weeks ago."

After finishing second to Verstappen last Sunday at Silverstone, Hamilton too acknowledged Verstappen was on his radar of potential rivals.

“Obviously the Red Bull seems to be quite close to us in race conditions, but that’s a good thing, and it will be interesting to see their progression through the rest of the year," he said.

“I definitely will not overlook them. We will keep a close eye on them. It’s not going to be easy by any means. I don’t think my team has that mentality anyway.

“And maybe in the future, we will get to have a bit more of a race.”