Formula 1

Verstappen doubts Red Bull will challenge Mercedes before 2021

Jul 30 2020
By Scott Mitchell

Max Verstappen says Red Bull’s need to improve its Formula 1 car means it may not fight for regular victories until the end of 2020, if not 2021.

Red Bull entered the 2020 season tipped to be Mercedes’ closest challenger. While Ferrari’s faltering start to the championship means Verstappen is best-placed behind the Mercedes drivers, he is already 30 points behind points leader Lewis Hamilton and hasn’t fought for victory at any of three grands prix so far.

The RB16 has been “misbehaving” aerodynamically, according to Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, causing Verstappen and team-mate Alex Albon to suffer several spins through testing and practice on grand prix weekends – and in Hungary Verstappen could only qualify seventh, while Albon was knocked out in Q2.

Ahead of a British Grand Prix weekend expected to go in Mercedes’ favour given its performance advantage so far, Verstappen said: “My intention is I go into a weekend where I always try to do the best I can.

“Of course I would like to come to the weekend and know that you’re going to fight for victories every weekend, but at the moment that is not the case.

“We just start to learn and try to improve. Hopefully, towards the end of the year or next year we can be in that position again.

“Of course it’s not going to be easy. They work very hard at Mercedes as well.

“If we can make it difficult for them that would be really nice but it’s not that I’m going to sit here frustrated and be angry about it all.

Max Verstappen

“That doesn’t mean that sometimes I don’t get a bit upset or whatever but that’s because I want to win and I want to improve and I think everybody in the team has that.

“We all want to win. And I think it’s good that we are pushing each other hard.

“So that’s nothing negative, because if we just sit here like ‘I don’t care, I just rock up to the track, I do my job and go back home’ I think that would be the wrong attitude.”

Horner said at the end of 2019 he was confident Red Bull would not suffer a repeat of slow starts to the 2017 and 2019 campaigns, when it had issues because of a change of aerodynamic rules in each season.

Max Verstappen spins Hungarian Grand Prix practice 2020

However, Verstappen said his team’s underwhelming form early in the 2020 season shows there is no clear reason why Red Bull is unable to start strongly.

“Otherwise, I think, of course we would have changed it,” he said.

“I think there are a lot of factors to that, where you can improve, and we’re looking into that.”

Red Bull is still hoping to make gains with its RB16 in the short-term and Verstappen and Albon both said there would be new parts on the car at Silverstone.

So far, both drivers have run a mix-and-match of upgrades as Red Bull’s developments have not produced what was expected.

“We are still learning, we’re bringing a lot of new parts of the car, different parts, to see what works, what doesn’t, where we could still improve,” said Verstappen.

“From one week to the other, it isn’t going to be solved. We need more time for that.

“But we’re working on it, and we’ll just find out by trying it on track as well if we’re heading into the right direction.”

Albon added: “In FP1 and FP2 we’ll be testing out some things trying to understand the car a little bit better.

“I’m sure, as Max said, it won’t happen straight away but we’ll discover the car a bit more each time we go out and I’m sure we can get there.

“It’s just a matter of when.”

Mercedes Red Bull Hungarian Grand Prix 2020

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