Max Verstappen knows Red Bull needs to start their F1 season well to mount a challenge as Toto Wolff and Valtteri Bottas wants Mercedes to take note of it’s rival’s pace.
Though firmly in contention later in the year, as was proven by their dominance in the season finale, Red Bull continued their habit of underwhelming season starts in F1 2020, when they struggled to match Mercedes on a track at which they had found success in both 2018 and 2019.
It was only after five rounds that the team secured their first victory in the second race at Silverstone, and though a calendar consisting of circuits mostly suited to Mercedes hurt them, they wouldn’t win again until Abu Dhabi – even though Verstappen and even Alexander Albon had a chance to win in early stages.
It is for this reason that Verstappen encourages his F1 team to get off to a stronger start in 2021, when he hopes he and his team can mount a title challenge as it was anticipated they could in 2020. “We know that we still have to improve the car a lot and we know it’s some areas where we have to really work on and that’s not only on the car but also power-wise – we need more.
“I hope we learn from the last few years, it’s not like we do it on purpose but yeah, we will definitely go into the winter with a good feeling,” Verstappen began. “It’s always nice to win the last race, I think, for the whole team, especially after a year like this when it’s very tough and a lot of races followed up after each other so yeah, it’s been hard on everyone, especially mechanics but also the people back in the factory manufacturing all the new parts because we brought quite a lot this year.
“It is a good boost and I just hope that we learn from our mistakes – also at the beginning of this year (those) we made and hopefully build a better car to start next year,” Verstappen summed up. Not content to rest on their laurels, Mercedes are expressly cognizant of the threat posed by Red Bull, who’ve routinely faced similar issues as those that they did in 2020.
Team boss Toto Wolff dismissed that the tuning down of power units was a factor in their loss in Abu Dhabi, and warned that their adversary’s win was the result of raw pace – not extenuating circumstances. He suggests that such form could carry through into 2021.
“Red Bull won fair and square there,” said Wolff. “You saw that Albon also had a very good race, so they had a very good race car, and it shows that when their car is in the right place, both drivers do a really good job. Albon’s pace was quicker than us by the end. They could have been well ahead, and [it could have been] even worse for us.”
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas hopes that the German team use their defeat in Abu Dhabi to motivate themselves over the winter to drive them further in the fight against Red Bull. “If we think about the big pictures, now in this team, being beaten by Red Bull at the last race of the season, for sure it motivates us even more to work hard over the winter for next year to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” he said.
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