Max Verstappen talks about stability issues with Red Bull RB16 in 2020 which is improving but feels limited developments chances may hinder F1 2021 charge.
The 2020 F1 season has seen a fair few difficulties for Red Bull, who have thus far fallen short of expectations headed into the season – one in which it was anticipated that they could mount a significant title challenge against the reigning champions Mercedes.
The year has witnessed the relatively unsuccessful debut of the team’s RB16, which has failed to match the pace of Mercedes’ offering. As was suspected early on, the package founders on the issue of stability, which it has long lacked.
Evidence of its unpredictable nature has been observed across numerous rounds, the Red Bull pairing of Verstappen and Alexander Albon often proving the most prone to spins despite their evident competence. “We are just trying to get 110 percent out of the car but it’s not capable of following a Mercedes, that’s why sometimes you have those moments where you spin off,” the Dutchman told F1 Magazine.
Verstappen added that the car’s state has improved since early in the year, but said that a deluge of third-place finishes can be hard to accept. “Yes, there were some things that we were working on to try and improve the stability of the car, as especially in the beginning it was a bit unpredictable, but now it doesn’t feel like it’s super undrivable.
“It’s a drivable car but I find it hard sometimes to accept that third is the best there is. I always try when I see an opportunity to get a bit more out of it,” Verstappen said, the referenced phenomenon of Red Bull’s package growing increasingly competitive as the season progresses being nothing new.
The team often begin seasons with a less competitive offering, it gradually morphing into a car more capable of challenging their rivals. It is a habit that Verstappen hopes to see the team break. “First of all we are always too slow at the beginning [of the season], so we need to make sure we have a car that hits the ground running and is a lot more competitive. How to do that?
“Clearly we haven’t found it, so we need to change our approach. We need to find a different way of working,” said Verstappen. “In terms of operations, we are good: we have really good pitstops, we’re good at strategy. I don’t think there are a lot of things that go wrong there. Besides that, clearly this year we were lacking in power. There are quite a few things we have to work on to be able to fight them [Mercedes].”
Offering a candid perspective on Red Bull’s future, Verstappen admitted that he expects much of the same out of 2021, when development is to be constricted. “Personally I don’t think we will [be able to front a challenge] because of all the limitations we have at the moment in terms of what you can develop on the car,” he said.
“Maybe some other people in the team will say something different. From my side I’m just realistic, I don’t think we can. So next year will be another tough one. Hopefully we’ll be a bit better but it will still be difficult to beat the Mercedes.”
As noted above and by the sayings of Christian Horner and Helmut Marko in the press, the RB16 is much more difficult to drive than RB15. While Verstappen has managed to drive around the issues, teammate Albon has suffered more with the instability.
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