Max Verstappen has warned Lewis Hamilton that he will not "risk" throwing away his title lead at this weekend's British Grand Prix.
Hamilton and Verstappen both won at Silverstone last year but an experimental new race format poses a fresh challenge for Formula One's title rivals on their return to the Silverstone circuit.
The biggest sporting crowd in Britain since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, with 140,000 expected on Sunday, will see Formula One history made with the debut on Saturday of The Sprint – a qualifying race without pitstops.
Silverstone is the first of three tracks that will trial a 100km half-hour long dash to decide pole position and set the grid for the next day's main event.
But despite being excited by the new format, Verstappen, now 32 points clear of Hamilton after winning five of nine races including the last three, is not getting carried away.
Asked if he will push his Red Bull car to its maximum, he said: "I mean, you take risks but controlled – especially when you are fighting for a championship so that one race is not going to define the end result. Let’s wait and see how it goes.
“It felt good to win that race last year. Coming into that race, I don’t think there were a lot of people who were thinking about [us] having a chance of winning including myself, but I think we had a good strategy, we were good on the tyres so it was a very nice race to win.
“I feel that we started off really well this year which of course I’m very happy about. But we must keep on pushing and cannot be dreaming about our results so far.
Who will win this weekend's British Grand Prix? Let us know in the comments section
"It’s going to be really tight and difficult, but I am hopeful we can have an amazing season.”
Verstappen was speaking as part of Red Bull's launch for their short film ahead of the British GP, in which the team pitted itself against some of the most infamous British vehicles of the 21st Century in a never-seen before battle.
Red Bull's 2011 title-winning RB7 car took on its Best of British rivals; the Spitfire, the ever-reliable night bus, the infamous London black cab, a white van, a festival car and a boy racer.
So who came out on top? Watch the video below to find out…
Meanwhile, looking ahead to the British GP, Red Bull chief Christian Horner is relishing the chance to go head-to-head with Mercedes in what will be a historic event on home soil.
A three-part qualifying session for The Sprint will be held on Friday instead of the usual second practice, meaning teams only have one hour on track to set up their cars before the competitive action.
A mistake on Friday is likely to carry far bigger consequences now, while fans – absent last year due to COVID-19 restrictions – can look forward to meaningful action on all three days.
Points will be on offer for the top three on Saturday, meaning a driver who wins both races and sets the fastest lap on Sunday can bank a maximum 29.
Horner said: “I think that Silverstone is going to be a big challenge and it’s been a strong hold of Mercedes for several years now, but again with so many members of the team coming to watch the cars in action, I think it’s another opportunity.
"[Also] with the first of the sprint races this year, it’s going to be a new event format and extra points available so it’s going to be a really exciting weekend.”
“Well, it’s going to be fantastic just to see a full Silverstone.
"We have really missed fully attended races and I think this is the first time we are going to see a proper crowd and I think that it is tremendously exciting.
"It’s always a great thrill to race in front of the British public – I live only 10 minutes from Silverstone, so for me, I get to sleep in my own bed!
"I’ve always loved the British Grand Prix, so I'm looking forward to seeing everybody there.”
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