Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2020

Verstappen: Both Mercedes drivers should be ahead of me in points

2020 Belgian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen says he has been able to split the two Mercedes drivers in the championship because Red Bull have “over achieved” in some races this year.

The Red Bull driver lies second in the championship, 37 points behind Lewis Hamilton but six ahead of the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas.

“I think looking at pure pace, both of them should be ahead of me in the championship,” said Verstappen in today’s FIA press conference ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix.

“Of course Valtteri had one retirement, I had one retirement. Well, retirement, he finished out of the points with a puncture, so no points. Of course that was unlucky for him and unlucky for me in the first race.

“But I think overall to be second in a few races where I think Mercedes had more pace, we definitely over-achieved a bit and besides that I think we always maximised what we could. So I’m happy with that.”

However Verstappen said the fact he is ahead of one Mercedes doesn’t mean he will be able to challenge Hamilton for the championship.

“As a team and myself we are not here to be second or third, we want to fight for the championship,” he said. “But we also have to accept the situation we are in that we are not really able to challenge.

“Yes, it looks like it on paper, but if you look at the pure pace we are too slow and at the moment are relying on a bit of an ‘off day’ for Mercedes or a bit of luck to win a race. So we still have a lot of work to do.”

Red Bull began 2020 optimistic about their chances of being able to compete with Mercedes for the championship. Verstappen says the gains Mercedes made with their power unit during the off-season are part of the reason why that hasn’t happened.

“Clearly they had a very good winter, Mercedes, they found a lot of performance out of their engine. That meant we were a bit behind.

“We’re just trying to do the best we can. Everybody is, of course. We’ll see what the rest of the season will bring. They are still, of course, quite ahead, but we don’t give up. I think that’s the mentality of the team – we will always keep fighting and go for every opportunity that we have.

Verstappen is unsure whether Red Bull will be much more competitive next year due to the restrictions on car development which have been introduced for the 2021 F1 season.

“For next year as well it might get a bit complicated because the rules are still the same, you’re not allowed to change a lot on the cars. But then of course there are new rules coming in [for 2022] and it’s a new opportunity for everyone.”

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2020 Belgian Grand Prix

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38 comments on “Verstappen: Both Mercedes drivers should be ahead of me in points”

  1. F1oSaurus (@)
    27th August 2020, 17:43

    Red Bull needs a driver than can help the engineers develop that car out of it’s problems. And also they should not try something new every season, but keep building up.

    1. Newey has been plugging along for 14 years on the high rake concept.
      Red Bull’s head staff has been unchanged for years.
      They are exactly doing what you are saying, the only thing new every season, is the ever radically changing rules the FIA provides…

      1. F1oSaurus (@)
        28th August 2020, 7:36

        Well they are clearly do not when they start the season with a car that they say they don’t understand.

        It’s not the first time either. It feels like almost every season they come with a car that’s so different from the previous one that they “don’t understand it”. Then it takes them at least half a season to get to grips with it. They perform better at the end of the season. Their fans are happy that this competitiveness at the end of the season must mean that next year it will be the year Verstappen is going to compete for the WDC and then the whole cycle begins again.

        1. Seems Mercedes is doing a very good job gaining in the winter more then Red Bull did. As you notice in the test and first races the car was very unstable (compared with end last year) so RB went for a concept (new) who was not so well. (Myself had hopend the same car end last year with some tweaks but Adrian always want to try new things and the new rule change wasn’t in RB advantage but the Mercedes.

          1. F1oSaurus (@)
            28th August 2020, 8:44

            @macleod Well perhaps Honda was also hit by the engine regulation changes. Indeed Red Bull does seem slower than previous season.

            Mercedes moved forwards while most other teams seem to have lost some speed.

  2. You got a free win because of tyre problems for Merc in the 70th anniversary. Benefited from Bottas’ silly mistakes in spain and Hungary as well. On Pure pace.. You and your team still have some work to do Maxie!

    1. That’s just what he says himself Donnie!

    2. Max did said that is his english so different? I could understand him very well and his point.

  3. I just hope Red Bull keep “over achieved” on this and the next season.

  4. Red Bull are still basically blaming their engine, then. Not their chassis, even though the Mercedes aero is obviously more consistent and giving more downforce and efficiency. Assuming Max is on-message with the team. Honda must be looking at the team that used to be theirs and sighing wistfully.

    1. Red Bull are still basically blaming their engine, then

      @zann
      True. If Alonso was making these statements, the world would be shouting blasphemy.

      The truth is that Red Bull is closest to Mercedes in aero performance, but is still lacking on the innovation bit (like a DAS system), which counts for a couple of tenths, and it’s definitely down on engine performance, which would probably count for another 3 to 4 tenths.

      Personally, I don’t think Honda will ever match Mercedes on engine performance, so Red Bull’s only shot at challenging the Mercs would be to trump them on aero and find the silver bullet before Mercedes does. 2022 looks like their best chance to be honest, up until then, Red Bull’s biggest task should be to stay competitive enough to retain Max.

      1. F1oSaurus (@)
        28th August 2020, 7:38

        @zann And then it’s probably the draggy high rake concept that is actually holding back on the straight rather than the engine.

        I wonder how much of Honda bhp deficit (derived from the GPS telemetry) is from the extra drag (or reduced drag for Mercedes) rather than that the engine is lacking.

        1. Lol i was just typing that exact thing @f1osaurus!

          1. F1oSaurus (@)
            28th August 2020, 8:40

            Oh sorry, I replied to your alias, instead of @todfod

      2. It’s ridiculous @todfod that we’re the only ones who don’t get the gps, but thinking about slow vs fast circuits the Merc looked at least as good at Hungary as at Silverstone I’d say. And I’m feeling that the aero efficiency is as much of a difference as the power.

        I think Honda are doing pretty well, personally, but the not-fair mantra seems to be rather part of the culture at RBR after all these years.

        1. F1oSaurus (@)
          28th August 2020, 8:46

          @zann For Hungary I feel Red Bull just completely messed up though and Verstappen also didn’t seem to be able to find a setup. Red Bull should have been faster than Mercedes there just like they were in 2019.

  5. @f1osaurus That is what they are doing though? It’s one of the reason they keep the high-rake concept. In Newey’s biography, he explains quite well that you should always prefer evoltion over revolution if you have a competitive car.

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      28th August 2020, 7:32

      @paeschli Well it’s like every season they start with a car that they then say they “don’t understand”. Then it takes them half a season to unlock it’s potential.

      Indeed, Newey does not work well with bigger overhauls and it feels like that;s exactly what they keep doing regardless.

      1. Well there’s no way to ‘prepare’ for a mismatch between the wind tunnel and the track. There’s no track testing, so they’re forced to use wind-tunnel data.

    2. Then he did something different as this car wasn’t faster (slower) then last year i edge more to revolution.

  6. Hmm, so nothing to do with Bottas DNF then…

    1. Max had a DNF as well…. his point is valid.

    2. Ajaxn .. Bottas didn’t have a DNF this year .. ok 1 race without a point but Verstappen did have a DNF .. so both had a race without a point .. that cancels each other out so it is still impressive that Verstappen is in front of Bottas!

      1. It’s an ok feat. Vettel managed the same much later in the season in 2015 against Rosberg.
        Bottas needs to stop putting himself in a position in which he needs to overtake someone. If if weren’t for his bad starts, he would be confortably ahead of Max.

        I still believe he will finish ahead, but he’s only making things difficult for him and looking bad in the process.

        1. F1oSaurus (@)
          28th August 2020, 7:39

          Is it really bad starts though? Last race the whole right side of the track got away worse than the left.

      2. @kavu

        Do they cancel out? Bottas’ tyre failure is at least in part driver error, as it is a responsibility of the driver to manage their tyres and to judge the state of their tyres (and perhaps demand a pit stop). Max’ failure doesn’t seem like anything that he could have prevented.

  7. Another 30hp and Max’d be golden.

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      28th August 2020, 8:58

      @robbie Yeah he needs the fastest car to be able to win. And even then he doesn’t in half the cases (like Hungary and Monaco last season)

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        28th August 2020, 9:37

        Yea although Perez managed to do reasonably well by the first corner, his start was worse than Bottas, and so were a few others on that side further back.

  8. @phillyspur Stock a lot. That way you may at least be able to soften the fall.

    1. @david-br Lol

      @phillyspur I think it should be like Christmas for all of us no matter what happens. Oh of course as to Mercedes there is naturally going to be that question as to whether or not they will maintain their dominance. It would be silly not to respectfully give them their due as the mega team they are, but it is also a clean slate, and the immense change to how the cars are going to feel for these guys, no longer handcuffed in dirty air, is going to be so exciting to see.

      If it goes how they would like it, and the changes should do the trick, there will be much closer racing, and less chance of one team dominating for such a run. So the points standings should be closer too. There should be 3 or 4 drivers in with a shout for the WDC, and more chance of seasons coming down to the last race. On paper of course, but they’re going to be working within a great new direction, race by race, season by season, and I think it’s going to be a blast.

      And…when it comes to Max in a more driver vs driver series, in close combat cars? He’ll be mega. He can split two dominant Mercs as it is. What are they going to do when they are less dominant and can’t control the pace out front with dirty air anymore?

  9. Absolutely amazing. Redbull are only getting beat because Mercedes have a more powerful engine eh? The mercedes car is also the best car by far.

    1. Exactly, all things being even and Max would be leading. Merc is the far superior car and best package (With Lewis). I honestly believe, Max and Lewis in = equipment would favor Max

      1. Bottas is a non player in the drivers championship other than to support Lewis

  10. Red Bull is a work in progress in terms of development. They stand a good chance in winning the championship in 2023 in my observation. So far Max has done well with a limited car.

  11. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    28th August 2020, 9:33

    It is impressive that Verstappen is ahead of Bottas in the standings. However, however cruel this sounds, a non start (which would have resulted in retirement) was only 6 seconds away from happening at one race. So in a sense, one retirement almost was a reflection of a mistake he made. It was down to Red Bull being as quick and organised as there were that saved him that time out.

    Had Verstappen finished 3rd in Austria, he will have gained 15 points. And had Bottas finished 2nd in Britain, Bottas would have gained 18 and Verstappen lost 3. So add 12 points for Verstappen and 18 for Bottas and they both would be tied which is still very impressive from Verstappen’s side. I’d probably say Bottas deserved 2nd in the 70th anniversary grand prix which will have got him just ahead of Verstappen, but that still shows how well verstappen is performing in this car.

  12. Max highlighting Mercedes’ engine gains over the Winter isn’t an attempt to throw shade at Honda, it’s simply reflecting like a lot of the paddock has, that Merc found a surprising amount of performance. Likely far beyond where Red Bull and Honda had set their own performance targets. When we had Red Bull and McLaren for that matter throwing shade at their engine suppliers in recent seasons it would more often not be around not hitting their targets or bringing upgrades that didn’t provide the expected performance. As is it looks like Red Bull and Max are actually happy with the progress they’ve been able to make with Honda, just that nobody expected Mercedes to be setting the bar so high this year.

    1. @alec-glen Fair and accurate comment, imho.

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