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Verstappen surprised to be in winning form in 2017

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing 2

Max Verstappen has admitted that he hadn't expected to be in any position to win races this season, after a terrible start to the year for Red Bull.

The Dutch driver suffered a string of problems during the first half of 2017, together with a lack of power and reliability from his TAG Heuer-badged engine.

But that's all changed since the summer shutdown. He took victory in Malaysia, and just a few weeks later put in a dominant performance last time out in Mexico.

"I would have never expected to win a race," said the 20-year-old. "I never really expected it because of my bad luck and stuff, but it was great to still achieve that.

Verstappen credited the leap forward in Red Bull's performance to fuel upgrades introduced by ExxonMobil at the British and Singapore Grands Prix.

"Already in Singapore, with the fuel upgrade we had there, I think we got a lot more competitive and we continued that trend," he said. "We definitely saw the gains we made this year.

"They were a lot bigger than what we had the last three years. I'm very happy with that," he noted. "And when you are improving faster than the others around you then you can fight for victory.

"It's all about little details," Verstappen explained. "You do feel that everything is running smoother.

"More performance. Faster on the straights. And better life as well on the parts inside the engine," he continued. "For next year, when we only have three engines, this will be very crucial."

Verstappen hopes that Red Bull's improved form will carry over to 2018 and put him in a perfect position to contest the title.

"Hopefully we can do that already next year," he said, insisting that he wouldn't be in Formula 1 if he didn't feel he was up to to the job. "I would do something else if I thought I was not able to do it."

However he admitted it was hard for him to accurately compare himself to Hamilton or any drivers on the grid except his team mate.

"We are not in the same car. I haven't really been in the same position as him. And I also don't think about it. I just focus on what I have to do."

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