Max Verstappen and Red Bull warned of ‘doubly annoying’ Mercedes threat at Imola

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Former Formula F1 driver turned pundit Ralf Schumacher believes it’ll be business as usual for Mercedes for round two of the championship at Imola, and it’s down to Red Bull to keep up.

Max Verstappen dominated the opening weekend in Bahrain, however failed to seal the deal after a highly entertaining final few laps which saw Lewis Hamilton crowned eventual winner, leading the way in the championship.

In his column on German Sky Sports, Schumacher said: “[I think] It is extremely unfortunate that Verstappen had to give up the lead at the direction of the race management a few laps before the end.

“I still consider his off-track overtaking maneuver in [to] Turn 4 to be fair and compliant.

“Hamilton is being pushed outwards and so also pushes Max out a bit.

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“If Verstappen [wanted] to prevent a collision, he has no choice but to evade. I don’t think that [anyone] can speak of an advantage for Verstappen.”

“In my opinion, this in no way indicates a conspiracy for Hamilton, Lewis has received too many penalties himself in the past.

“However, this discussion is not intended to diminish Mercedes’s performance. I didn’t think it was possible to make up the clear gap to Red Bull in such a short time. Not to forget: Valtteri Bottas also made it onto the podium despite a failed pit stop.

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“So for the next race in Imola you can probably count on a Mercedes of old strength, which can only mean one thing for Red Bull: They too have to take the next step, which is likely to be a major feat in terms of personnel and finance.

“Doubly annoying, after all, all teams want to get down to the development of the car for 2022 as early as possible.

Schumacher also spoke about his nephew Mick , who made his Formula One debut in Bahrain driving for Haas.

“Mick delivered an almost flawless weekend.

Even the small mistake in the race on cold tires cannot spoil this positive impression.

“[Problems for] his team-mate Nikita Mazepin over the entire weekend have shown that the car is anything but easy to drive.

“Mick did a great job of that.

“Unfortunately, this strong performance does not get as much attention as Mick deserves, because he was usually too far away from the rest of the field with the less competitive Haas.”

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