Max Verstappen is wary of ‘traditional’ circuits favouring Mercedes again in F1 French GP, as Toto Wolff hopes to bounce back after difficult period.
The battle between Verstappen, and Red Bull, and Lewis Hamilton, and Mercedes, is set to resume this weekend in F1 French GP at Paul Ricard, with 2021’s first triple-header. After they scored 0 points in the Azerbaijan GP, both will be raring to go.
Verstappen will try to extend his advantage at the top of the Drivers’ Standing. But despite feeling good with his car, the Dutch F1 driver thinks that Mercedes will return on top in more traditional tracks like the Circuit Paul Ricard.
“I’m sure that Mercedes will be very strong on the ‘normal’ tracks again, so we have to keep pushing and keep improving right to the very end because it’s never enough”, said Verstappen. “So far the season has been pretty good to us but we need to remember that there are still a lot of races ahead of us.
“I am happy with the race results that we have had so far and that we are leading the championship, but we also have to be there leading it in Abu Dhabi, that’s all that matters,” summed up Vesratppen. Aside the drivers’ standings, Red Bull is also leading the Constructors’ Standing, thanks to Sergio Perez’s victory at Baku.
Verstappen, who has been very critical of his teammates, including Perez, and their help in the fight against Mercedes, has recognized that perhaps things are changing, but that Red Bull must exploit every opportunity to create and extend a gap.
“It’s great to have two cars up at the front fighting for the championship and also scoring the points,” said Verstappen. “Baku was a great example of that and how it should be done. It’s great that Checo was able to make the gap to Mercedes bigger in the constructor’s championship and that he’s now third in the driver’s championship.”
While Red Bull is 50-50 on their chance, Mercedes’ team principal Wolff agrees with the way the Dutchman reads the F1 season so far. The Austrian feels that Monaco and Baku are not indicative of the real value of the Black Arrows, and that the frustration from the two bad results will push the team and the drivers in doing better in France.
“We come off the back of two street circuits unsuited to our car, two circuits we knew would be difficult for us, and we were disappointed to lose a podium finish and a victory through our own mistakes,” said Wolff. “That frustration reflects the high standards we hold ourselves to, and it is what drives us forward.
“In Monaco and Baku we put the W12 in a window where only one of our drivers found the confidence to unlock the performance of the car – Valtteri in Monaco and Lewis in Baku. In such a close, intense title fight, we need to deliver a car at each race which both our drivers can confidently push to its limits.”
“The French Grand Prix means returning to a more traditional circuit,” continued Wolff, “and hopefully, better fortunes for us. It is a track we’ve gone well at in the past and, with a wide range of corner speeds that will test the car in every aspect, it’s an interesting challenge for us to tackle.
“We’re six races into the season and there’s still a long way to go. It’s looking very close at the front and we’re not expecting that to change anytime soon. We’ll be looking to turn our learnings from recent weeks into performance and to deliver a much stronger weekend with both cars,” summed up Wolff.
With six races done in the 2021 F1 season thus far, Red Bull Racing is 26 points in front of Mercedes in the Constructors’ Standing, while Verstappen is four away from Hamilton in the drivers’ standings.
Here’s what Pirelli and Red Bull had to say regarding Baku tyres
The story was written by Lorenzo Liegi