Max Verstappen got his first taste of the 2021 Red Bull Formula 1 car, the RB16B, earlier this week during a filming day at Silverstone.
Red Bull and Verstappen will both be hoping that they can build on their impressive progress last season, which saw them end the year with a race win at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
After completing the shakedown at the home of the British Grand Prix earlier this week, the Dutchman spoke to the media via Zoom.
You only drove a few miles in the car. Did the team address what you needed them to address for this year’s car?
Max Verstappen: “We drive a demo car on demo tires. It does not feel how it is going to be on real tires. I never really base a lot of my finding on short tests. It is all about getting the car out and learning. It felt normal to me. So yes, we will just have to have to wait. Let’s wait for Bahrain and see what is happening there with proper tyres under the car.”
Does the creation of Red Bull Powertrains change anything for you?
Verstappen: “It does not change anything for me. It is exciting. We are living in the moment and we are trying to have a good season and it is important to have a good season. There are smart people in the background that will handle this kind of thing with the engine. We are still waiting to see the RB16B properly, but it is going to be worth the wait when we finally get to see what it looks like on track.”
Is the carryover from last year an advantage for you as opposed to driving a brand new car?
Verstappen: “The floor is a big change. It is important to recover all the downforce lost. It is going to be important and again it is going to be interesting to see who did that the best. At the moment, of course, I don’t know where we are at. There are still a few things of course we have to be on top of. Mercedes was still the dominant car at the end of last season, so we need to keep improving.”
Will Honda be able to provide you with more power?
Verstappen: “We made good steps. But the competition is not standing still. If it is competitive enough we need to fight but we have to wait and see. It is never good enough for a driver. We need to be competitive enough to fight for race wins.”
Have you spoken much with Sergio Perez?
Verstappen: “I always got on very well with Checo and we have a good relationship.”
Did you experience any issues during the shakedown?
Verstappen: “No we completed 100km.”
Will you be the successor to Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes if leaves at the end of this season?
Verstappen: “I don’t know what Lewis will do. I focus on myself only and I want to make it a success this year. It is still too early in the season with only one shakedown. I am not really thinking about this at this stage.”
As a driver with a lot of experience, what do you expect from Checo?
Verstappen: “I expect Checo to do a good job like he has always done in his career. I am excited to work with him and from him to deliver a lot of points for the team.”
What are your expectations for Zandvoort and the Mexican Grand Prix?
Verstappen: “I am looking ahead to the first race of the season right now. I am going to be excited for Mexico because I have had good races there already and the passion of the fans is fantastic. I will also be looking forward to Zandvoort and of course to do the full calendar.”
What is different about this year and what gives you confidence?
Verstappen: “We don’t know yet to be honest. I am always very realistic and we have to go to Bahrain and look at the results. 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 and realise.”
Is the car still difficult to drive?
Verstappen: “The car is always on the edge but a fast car is never easy to drive. If it becomes too easy to drive then it has too much understeer anyway, so, I want more grip. But it does not mean it was too hard to drive, because you adapt to the situation you are in.”
What do you want to be different from last year?
Verstappen: “I would like more grip more power. People always talked about the rear end being so twitchy, but I think we were a bit down on power and general grip. We know that it is no secret. We worked a lot with Honda over the winter and it does look promising. But it does not make sense now to hype everything up now, it is more important to get to Bahrain and do the best amount of learning about the car and the engine in order to optimise everything.”
What have you been looking to improve over the off-season as you head into the new season?
Verstappen: “I am looking at this every day. I am looking back at races, analysing weekends/ Sometimes when just looking back at the race, you can see stuff. It is important to start looking at other teams and hear what they say. I am more about improving driving-wise, not fitness-wise. It is never good enough you know. Every year you need to step up again and try to be even better in qualifying or try to be even more consistent in the race. I am also focused on trying to be even better on tyres, but this is a natural process and it is not something that I can pinpoint. It just happens for me naturally and if it happens you keep rewinding a race weekend in your head.”