Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2018

Red Bull have made a “massive step forward” – Verstappen

2018 F1 season

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Max Verstappen called Red Bull’s RB14 a “massive step forward” after qualifying fourth for the Australian Grand Prix.

However he admitted his final run was compromised by a mistake.

“I lost a little bit on entry so I missed the apex and then went wide on the Astroturf,” said Verstappen. “You slide the rears and then the rear tyres are too hot.

2018 Australian Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
Although this cost gim a place to Kimi Raikkonen, Verstappen said it had been “a good qualifying” session for Red Bull.

Lewis [Hamilton] seems to be quite far ahead but if we would have put a clean lap together it’s let’s say half a second, and then with the power mode they have which is three or fourth tenths, then it’s not too bad.”

Verstappen said his feeling in the car compared to 12 months ago is “a lot better” and expects it will be stronger at some of the upcoming venues.

“The car compared to the beginning of last year is a massive step forward. The car itself has been behaving strongly.”

“This is not our best track of the calendar,”he added. “Our car definitely is working really well. So I’m not too worried.”

As Mercedes is unable to use its high power engine mode as frequently during the race, Verstappen believes they will be “at least three or four tenths” of a second per laps closer. However he acknowledged that as long as Mercedes has that advantage in qualifying it will be tough for Red Bull to compete with them.

“It will be a lot harder if you’re already behind in qualifying. Overtaking is anyway quite difficult. But we knew that already now for three or four years that’s how it is.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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17 comments on “Red Bull have made a “massive step forward” – Verstappen”

  1. Max too often fails to maximise his result in Q3. Improving this should be his primary focus this year.

    Can’t wait for the race tomorrow, we’ll see how the alternative tire strategy works out for RB. Lets hope for another magical start from Kimi so Lewis doesn’t have a walk in the park..

    1. It says a lot though that your comment is true – and yet he still beat Ricciardo 13-7 last season.

      1. Dani got the brunt of the mechanical failures. Otherwise they were vere close.

        1. Max’s slightly less unreliability came to him at more costly times. And still it was double the quali’s over DR, more than double the laps spent ahead of DR, and 5-2 for Max finishing ahead the seven times they both finished the same race. I don’t think they were very close.

          1. Close enough that Ric finished ahead of him in the Championship.

          2. Answer goes to both the last comments: verstappen was indeed much faster last year compared to ricciardo, and if you correct for mechanical problems, you’d see him coming slightly ahead of ricciardo in points too in 2017.

            I think it’s only slight cause of the risks verstappen takes, especially at start, as long as he doesn’t have a championship contending car he tries everything to win, not to maximize the amount of points with lots of 2nd places etc.

          3. Do you include in that equation the points Ric lost through mechanics issues, or team mates crashing him off the track issues? Ves was quicker at times, Ric was quicker at times. At the end of the day Ric came out higher in the championship, which is the goal.

  2. I think they’re probably the second best car at the moment, and more importantly the gap is so much smaller that there will be plenty of circuits (Bahrein the first I can think of, maybe China too) where the gap will be even smaller. Can’t wait.

  3. So it’s three or four tenths. Not as mega as I thought it was. But I think Max was wrong, if Merc can deploy high power engine mode twice on six qualifying laps, they could easily switch it on in first 20 laps during the race then cruise in clear air.

    1. Or for a lap before pitstops and after… In general they only use it in quali. I believe there is also more power in it at the sacrifice of less battery charging etc, that would then hurt subsequent laps. So they use a different party mode.

  4. A good start can see him in front of the Ferraris at turn 1 tomorrow, provided they don’t sandwich him…

    1. Ahah, hopefully they learnt from their lesson, verstappen isn’t a good ingredient for a sandwitch!

      1. Sandwich ofc*

  5. I fully expect Max Verstappen to be Hamilton’s main contender this year. He’s got the talent and the right attitude.

    1. …and wrong car.

    2. No question you’re right about Max. I’m just not ready to declare RBR ahead of Ferrari, but hey, as we know, it will also depend on the track and hundreds of other variables.

      1. Ferrari seem marginally ahead, but I think last season was their chance and Verstappen can probably beat them enough times on performance, with speed and racing élan, to more than make up that difference. Really depends on Vettel’s attitude this season. I don’t see Raikkonen as a realistic prospect, but if he’s beating Vettel already, not a good sign for Ferrari. Still, only qualifying in the first GP, so could easily change. What is certain is that Hamilton and Verstappen are already up to speed. I think Hamilton knows he has to be this time, he’s well aware of the threat Max poses.

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