Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Paul Ricard, 2019

Verstappen: Renault’s “strong” power mode helping McLaren

2019 French Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen doubts McLaren will be a threat to Red Bull in the French Grand Prix despite qualifying just nine-thousandths of a second ahead of them.

The Red Bull driver believes McLaren’s qualifying performance was flattered by their Renault power unit’s high power mode.

Asked if he was worried by the threat from Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jnr starting immediately behind him Verstappen said “not too much.”

“We are normally better in the race,” he explained. “They have a power mode in qualifying, quite a strong one, so I should be alright.”

Verstappen admitted McLaren have made progress since the season began but pointed out he lost time at the end of his lap in qualifying.

“They are doing a better job compared to the beginning of the season, they are catching up. Of course when you are so far behind it’s easy to close that gap but to find the last few tenths is hard.

“Also in my final run in Q3 I think we could have been closer to Ferrari but I had a weird behaviour in the last two corners so that was a bit of shame.”

He also believes Paul Ricard is not a track which suits the Red Bull. “When you look at last year as well it was not an easy track for us.

“Especially with the difficulties we had this morning I think the car we had in qualifying was not that bad. But we lose a lot of time on the straight. [And] also, having said that, from the car performance, we are not extracting the most out of it.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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26 comments on “Verstappen: Renault’s “strong” power mode helping McLaren”

  1. Verstappen praising Renault? Probably the most exciting and unpredictable moment of the entire season.

    1. Netflix will kill for this moment!
      I already envision them creating a hidden narrative that Verstappen wants to follow Ricciardo to Renault!

    2. Seeing Ric beating not just Gas but Max also would be awesome to see…not because of l dislike of either driver, just the humble pie Horner and Marko would eat..

  2. While I would have preferred Ricciardo to kick some RBRs, McLaren will also do.
    Hope they have an awesome race tomorrow!

  3. I appreciate that Verstappen is the first of the Red bull clowns to admit they’re losing ground to Renault powered teams because of Honda power. Although, I find it hilarious that on Thursday, Verstappen was praising Honda’s latest update by saying they always deliver on their updates unlike other engine partners they’ve had in the past.

    Red bull might not admit it yet, but they would be a heck of a lot better this year with Renault pier at the back of their car.

    1. I find it hilarious people can’t grasp the fact Red Bull build a rather mediocre chassis this year. Come to the track and you’ll see it slide all over the place, unlike previous years.
      But hey, gotta be Honda, right?

      1. People tend to automatically assume that Red Bull = great chassis. This is true in most cases but not all, like 2015 or 2019.

        These new aero regulations have hampered the teams who previously had a high rake philosophy (RBR, Ferrari), and helped the teams who had a low-rake philosophy (Merc). Not to mention that the thinner tyres also suit Merc. I don’t expect RBR or Ferrari to challenge Merc again until 2020.

      2. I highly doubt red bull would build a mediocre chassis. Maybe not as good as merc but definitely better than McLaren this season.
        Also the F1 Instagram account did a nice side by side comparisons of the verst/norris’ laps… verst was gaining in the twisties and Norris was only catching up when accelerating out of corners, especially the run to the finish line.

      3. Oconomo,in this situation, I would say that it is more of a consequence of previous remarks that have been made by Verstappen and by Red Bull as a whole.

        Back in January this year, Marko had talked down Renault’s power unit and talked up the effectiveness of Honda’s qualifying mode, claiming that their engine was more powerful than Renault’s engine and that Honda would be matching Mercedes and Ferrari in terms of their qualifying engine modes. Equally, back in Baku Verstappen had been talking up the effectiveness of Honda’s qualifying mode on the “Spec 2” engine, where he commented that he thought it put them close to Mercedes in terms of power output.

        Because of those earlier comments by the team and by Max about how effective the Honda qualifying mode was supposed to be, whilst in the past they dismissed the Renault power unit as not having a comparable qualifying mode, it then seems surprising for Max to now be suggesting that the only reason why the McLaren’s were close to Red Bull was because of how effective Renault’s power unit is now supposed to be in qualifying trim.

        I suppose the other aspect is that the comparison Ipsom refers to did seem to suggest that Red Bull were competitive in the tighter turns, whilst on the straights McLaren were quicker – similarly, McLaren also appear to have been faster in some of the drag limited corners, such as Signes.

        It is true that, on his qualifying lap, it did look as if Verstappen’s car was not especially stable, whilst he did also go on to compound that with a few errors – he came very close to getting his time deleted for running wide at Turn 6 and braked too late into Turn 8, resulting in him also having a poor exit from Turn 9 – but, at the same time, some Max’s comments do raise questions about whether the Honda power unit is quite as effective as the team have claimed it is.

      4. @oconomo

        Cute comment. So, when Red bull were building championship winning chassis from 2014 to 2018, it was Renault that was letting them down, but in 2019, it’s their chassis design skills that have suddenly abandoned them as Honda is a championship winning power unit.

        Don’t let facts get in the way of your statements. The fact that Honda still has the worst relaibility and performance among all power units is clear as day light. Not to mention that Red bull was a heck of a lot more competitive when they were powered by Renault. They haven’t even looked close to a race win since they’ve partnered with Honda.

        It’s funny how Mclaren made such poor chassis from 2015 to 2017 as well. And suddenly in 2019 they’ve suddenly inherited chassis building skills while Red bull have lost theirs.

        1. @Todfod
          Hmm, in 2015 Red Bull had a bad chassis, in 2017 they missed the ball again.
          Really, that’s you argument? Get your facts straight.
          Come to the track, and you’ll see how crappy the chassis is compared to most other cars.
          It’s sliding and stepping out at EVERY turn, like a proper 80’s car.
          Adrian has build more not championship winning cars than he has build championship winning cars
          But hey, you keep watching F1 from behind your screen, and pretend to know how the cars behave.

    2. I find it extremely gratifying to hear the sounds of silence from Marko and Horner.
      All the excessive bashing they spewed on Renault for all those years.
      To make matters worse, Zak stole James Key and refused to give in to Marko’s demand for Lando as compensation. Then Renault pooched RIC . Beautiful. Karma must be real.
      I’m hoping McRenault is even with RBR and we can some battles between him and VER.

      1. between Lando and VER that is

      2. @Mike
        But the reality is that Renault has been, and still is, a joke compared to Merc and Ferrari after almost 8 years of development. Red Bull is still third, they get their engines fir free, and where is Renault?

        1. @Todfod @Mike
          And at the moment, Red Bull, with a completely useless second driver, has more than double the points of McLaren and Renault combined!
          Wasn’t it Renault who were saying they’re gonna close the gap to the front of the field……..

  4. Archit (@architjain07)
    22nd June 2019, 21:41

    So Renault is indeed more powerful than Honda by Verstappen’s own admission! Wow! A couple of races back Dr Marko said we are ahead of Mercedes in engine power! What a joke RBR has become. Stop with the PR and accept the fact that Honda is indeed still the least powerful engine on the grid. Verstappen himself said they are losing time on the straights. The chassis can’t be that bad that they start losing time in a straight line. McLaren must be smirking right now

  5. The honda engine layout is quite different to honda, look at issues macca had last year. This must affect the cars’ design concept

    1. Oops should have said different to Renault

    2. Mclaren’s issues last year are down to a rushed design to acomodate the changes to the new PU. The deal with Renault came really late in ’17.
      That car was draggy as hell. The only good thing about it was that it had better reliability than the previous one.

    3. When Honda came into the sport in 15, with the size zero concept, their layout was indeed different. Their turbo sat in the V of the engine. After improved reliability in 16, they soon realised that this concept isn’t as effective as the more conventional split setup that the other manufacturers employ. For 17, they went back to the drawing board for a new layout, which is why their reliability suffered once again.

      Their current layout is similar to Renaults, which is similar to Merc and Ferrari.

  6. Ha, ha, Verstappen saying Renault’s engine is too powerful in Q3.

    I hope Abiteboul can think of a great comeback line. Maybe we can have a contest here for the most epic reply?

  7. I think all of the hype and talking up of the RB Honda combo by Marko, Horner and Verstappen is being shown for what it was…hype, hype don’t win races. Also like I said last yr, RB will miss Ricciardo as a development driver, now Renault are improving while RB seem to be stuck.

    1. @johnrkh
      You mean, losing to another customer team is improving?
      But you’re right about Daniel: After being crushed by Max for a couple of seasons, development driver is a correct description.

      1. You sound bitter, Upset RB have failed to make any improvement at all over 2018? Or is it that RB have lost one of the best drivers on the grid and looking at losing their self inflated importance to F1?

  8. McLaren/Renault did a great job in qualfying, but Red Bull/Honda have been ahead of them the entire season so far including this qualifying. So this could be a one-off fir McLaren. Let’s see how this and future races unfold, it would be nice to see them get back to their old glory.

  9. People tend to ignore that power unit switch decision from RBR was not triggered by relative performance but by political choice.

    RBR wanted to be treated as Renault’s frontline team (which they were indeed by results), but Renault’s plans to grow back as a championship contender was always going to hurt there.

    In the end RBR pragmaticaly chose Honda’s proposal, which was indeed granting them full decision power on design direction and priorities. At first, Honda had to prove to be able to improve power and reliability with the STR team in 2018 being used as an engine laboratory. In conterpart, RBR agreed to help Honda’s reputation in their communications, opposite as what they were doing with Renaults.

    Considering the timing of STR and Mac Laren PU switch, one can tell the divorce between Renault and RBR was mutually aranged more than one and half a year before being officialised. It was unavoidable since Renault came back as a team.

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