Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen is tentative about the performance gains offered by the team’s new RB16B, and their new Honda power unit.
In 2020, Red Bull’s first variant of the RB16 faced stability woes, with their drivers frequently finding difficulty keeping the car on the circuit. Verstappen says that this challenge was the consequence of a quick car, which traded drivability for performance. The Dutchman implies that this was therefore not a priority in developing their new car.
“The car is always on the edge,” Verstappen said to selected media. “A fast car is never easy to drive. If it becomes too easy to drive then it is too understeery anyway. So, I want more grip. It does not mean it was tricky to drive, because you adapt to the situation you are in,” he adds.
The Dutchman refrained from speaking to the pace of the RB16B and also the power of the new Honda engine, citing incomplete data, . “I am always very realistic and we have to go to Bahrain and look at the results,” said Verstappen. “It makes no sense to talk about stuff now without data. I don’t like to speak about it.
“We know where we want to be and where we have to get to and what we have to try to realize. It does not make sense now to hype everything up and first it is more important to get to Bahrain and it is more important to do the best amount of learning about the car and the engine in order to optimise everything,” said Verstappen, who also shared optimism that Honda can make a step forward in the coming season.
“I think we were a bit down on power and general grip [in 2020], we know that,” said Verstappen. “It is no secret. We worked a lot with Honda over the winter. It does look promising.” The 24-year-old remains hopeful that the team can be competitive in 2021, despite lagging behind in the early stages of development.
Last season, Mercedes began developing their 2021 challenger early on, while Red Bull continued to work on their 2020 machine later into the campaign with the expectation that developments can carry over. “We knew we had some issues with the car and we wanted to improve it,” said Verstappen.
“Knowing the regulations, they would not change that much. The floor changed a bit but in general the car stayed pretty much the same. For us it was important to get on top of our weakness; the floor, for instance. Let see this year if we improve even a bit more and better. Hopefully we will be more competitive compared to Mercedes,” Verstappen said.
Talking about threat from Ferrari, Verstappen had no predictions if they will join the fight. “At the moment you can’t predict anything,” he said. “I have no idea. Unfortunately I can’t look at their data. But of course it would be good for the sport. It doesn’t matter which team, just having all teams closer to the podium and closer to being able to win a race is always better for the sport.”
Here’s Max Verstappen driving the RB15 and thoughts on RB16B
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