Max Verstappen concedes that Red Bull has to be 100% in F1 2024 due to rising competition from the likes of Ferrari and McLaren.

The last two seasons has been a touch smooth sailing for Red Bull in terms of winning both the titles with Verstappen. Even though 2024 has seen advantage with Red Bull, but they have already lost twice in the space of seven races which wasn’t the case last year.

Whether it is Red Bull facing issues throughout the weekend or rivals stepping up, it is a touch close now and there is a sense of tension in the air. While both Ferrari and McLaren are not stating that world championship is in their hands, but race wins are possible now.

If they pile up the pressure on Red Bull, both the teams feel that they can pluck out more wins in F1 2024 – whether or not they can stop them from winning the title. And Verstappen knows it that he and the team has to bring their A-game always.

Any slip-up during the weekend, there is Ferrari and McLaren waiting in the wings. “I mean, I think after Miami, it was quite clear when we went into Imola, it had all closed up quite a bit, even though Imola was probably also not our easiest weekend,” said Verstappen. “But for sure, Monaco is always like that anyway.

“And it will depend now who will put more performance on the car, find the best possible set-up on the car. But, for sure, things have closed up which makes, I think from our side, makes it of course very important to try and be at our very best, 100%. I know that is not always a very realistic possibility, but you always try to get to a certain point and maybe the last few races we haven’t been operating at that but, yeah, every single weekend we try again and try to find the best possible set-up in the car.

“But for sure, you can see it’s definitely closing up,” summed up Verstappen, who reckons if their rivals are feeling that they can win races, it is absolutely right for them to do so. Onus is on Red Bull to remain on top and have a clean weekend all-through to deny the rivals of any chance to sneak through the top spot.

“n all seriousness I think it’s good that you see other teams, they are also becoming more and more competitive – I guess naturally with the regulations, how they are,” said Verstappen. “Over time people learn more and more what direction that they have to push into and it’s good for the sport, you know, that more teams are fighting for the win.

“I think everyone should think like that [that they can win races], especially I think after their last two races, they [McLaren] are really in the mix. Of course, there are quite a few points down at the moment. But if you suddenly start winning, then, it can turn around quite quickly.

“And from our side, we just keep on trying to improve our package. And my approach has always been the same. You know, that doesn’t matter about anyone else involved or another team involved. We just have to focus on ourselves, you know, because that’s the only thing that we can control,” summed up Verstappen.

While the Dutchman has some praise for their rivals, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is cautious and wants to remain a touch realistic, stating Red Bull to be still the team to beat. “I don’t want to kill the excitement but I wouldn’t jump to conclusions too early,” he said. “I mean it’s been the last race has been pretty close. the one before as well.

“It was two particular tracks. It is also true that the two next tracks are also quite particular, being Monaco and Canada where kerb-riding is so important. And as Max said, it might not show the strength of their car. So I think we’ve got to wait a little bit more to try and understand exactly where we are in terms of performance.

“However, we are confident of our steps forward done with our upgrades. And we really hope that it will be enough to close the gap and to be soon on a par with them. And that will be great for Formula 1 in general. That’s what we want.”

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