Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2021

“It’s all looking promising but it doesn’t make sense to hype everything up” – Verstappen

2021 F1 season

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Max Verstappen was encouraged by his brief first run in Red Bull’s new RB16B but said next month’s testing will provide a better indication of the improvements the team has made.

Red Bull ran their new car, which is closely based on last year’s RB16, for the first time yesterday at Silverstone. As it was a filming day, Verstappen and new team mate Sergio Perez were limited to a maximum distance of 100 kilometres and had to used demonstration tyre compounds.

“We drive on demo tyres so it will never feel how it’s going to feel on real tyres,” Verstappen told media including RaceFans today. “I never really base a lot of my findings on this small run. You just get the car out and run a few laps.

“It all felt a bit normal to me. I think we just have to wait and see what’s happening in Bahrain once we have proper tyres under the car.”

As a cost-saving measure, teams are only allowed to make a limited number of changes to the cars they used last year. Nonetheless Red Bull has been coy about its new machine, releasing only two renderings of its latest design and no photographs of the car’s debut run.

“It’s a bit of a carry-over from last year for all teams,” said Verstappen. “I don’t think it’s going to be a completely different car anyway.

“As long as it’s fast that’s the most important, even if it would look pink, purple or any other colour or shape that doesn’t matter. Even if it has the weirdest shape on the car possible, and it’s fast, I’m happy with that.”

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Among the few areas teams have had to change on their cars is the rear floor, the dimensions of which have been reduced to cut the amount of downforce the cars can generate. Verstappen said this had a significant impact on the car.

“The floor is still a big change,” he said. “To try to recover all that downforce loss is going to be important and is going be to be interesting to see who did that the best.

“At the moment I don’t know, of course, where we are. But there’s still a few things we have to be on top of. Mercedes was still the dominant car towards the end of the season so we know we have to keep improving.”

Red Bull began last year around a second per lap slower than Mercedes, but narrowed the gap to the world champions over the course of the season as the RB16 matured into a quicker and more stable machine. Verstappen said he is more concerned with improving the car’s outright performance than making it more forgiving to drive.

“The car is always on the edge,” he said. “A fast car is never super-easy to drive. If it becomes super-easy to drive, most of the time it’s too understeery anyway.

“I just wanted more grip. It didn’t mean that it was very tricky to drive because you adapt to the situation you’re in.

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“At the end of the season, Mercedes, of course, stopped developing that car from whenever – June, July – because you couldn’t really see a lot of updates. We just kept learning. We know we had a few issues with that car and we wanted to improve it.

“Also knowing that the regulations wouldn’t change that much – of course the floor changed a bit, but in general the cars stayed pretty much the same – for us it was important to just get on top of that.

“Let’s see this year if we improved it even more and even better and hopefully it’s more competitive compared to Mercedes.”

“People always talked about the rear end being so twitchy,” he added. “I think it’s just general grip that we were still lacking a bit.

“But then also we were a bit down on power. We know that, that is no secret, you can see it. So we worked a lot with Honda of course, also throughout the winter.

“It’s all looking promising but it doesn’t make sense now to hype everything up. First it’s more important to get to the track in Bahrain and try to do the best amount of learning we can on the car and the engine to optimise everything.”

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35 comments on ““It’s all looking promising but it doesn’t make sense to hype everything up” – Verstappen”

  1. Well summed up by Max. Pretty much echoes the reality. And it reminded me of a video someone linked to a few months back about one of the main things that separates Max from many other drivers, that being his ability to adapt better on the fly, lap by lap, as the tires change and grip changes, balance etc etc. It’s not all about having a car built for a driver to suit his style, for the car’s feel is never constant anyway, so it is much about adapting to change and doing so quickly and constantly in order to maximize the performance of the car. Of course a driver can have preferences on how a car feels and handles, but he cannot count on that feel always being there, and so has to be ready to change his style to suit the car.

    1. Max from many other drivers, that being his ability to adapt better on the fly, lap by lap, as the tires change and grip changes, balance etc etc.

      But there is one driver that is better than Max Verstappen in this regard. Take the bait.

      1. @kbdavies Lol as I said from many other drivers, not necessarily all, but then again ok I’ll bite. Let’s imagine Max in his 8th season at one with a dominant car that fits him like a glove if we want to compare apples to apples.

        1. I know you said many other drivers and not all. But i’m simply pointing one driver who is better than he is in that regard. Surely there is nothing wrong with that, is there?

          Furthermore, Max is in his 7th season with a Red Bull, and the dominance of his car has nothing to do with the issue you tried to make.

          1. @kbdavies Hmm sounds like someone’s had razor blades for breakfast. Why would I think there is something wrong with that, when I have said from the start ‘better than many’ and not ‘better than all?’

            Furthermore, Max will actually have had 5 3/4 seasons in a Red Bull after this season, to LH’s 9 at Mercedes after this season, 8 in the hybrid era, so why are you stretching that to 7 for Max. To make it sound like he has been in a similar or comparable situation to LH?

            To say the dominance of LH’s car has nothing to do with it is I think incorrect. I think that when a bloke can start a big percentage of races from the front row, and in half his seasons on the team barely even be bothered by his teammate, there is a lot of time that LH has not had to push to any extreme nor adapt to changing conditions on the fly nearly so much. Not saying not at all, just not as much. I mean come on, how often does he look on rails? Full credit to him and the team for that.

            As I have said I am giving him his credit on that anyway, as if you have to point it out and as if his numbers don’t speak for themselves. But let’s not pretend LH is hard done by in terms of car handling and power, such that his life is not a tad easier at times compared to drivers having to play catch up and push a lot harder while doing so.

            I was merely pointing out a virtue of Max’s as was put together in a video that I thought was interesting that someone here referenced a number of weeks ago. But hey, I get it, he’s a threat as someone touted to be amongst the better drivers on the grid, with some placing him higher than LH even. But LH gets the luxury of owning the crown as he has had the rare luxury of such a dominant car for so long. That’s a plain and simple fact and doesn’t have to automatically mean it’s a slag on him. That’s fair game and happens in F1 sometimes. It is absolutely reasonable to imagine what a great driver like Max could do, and where his numbers would also be, in a similar run of such a great car for so long. Max, and some other drivers in the same situation, would also be spending less time having to adapt to a car that is less erratic, on average, over a season, and can complete some races for the win without having really been pushed to any limits.

        2. Unfortunately you have made this a Max vs LH thing

          Errr….you are the one who first mentioned Lewis Hamilton in this discussion, and started bringing up all manner of reasons – including his dominant car and not being troubled by his teammate.

          My initial comment to you merely said there was “one driver” better than Max in the regard which you were talking about.

      2. Take the bait.

        But schumacher stopped years ago.

        1. @Robbie – I certainly didn’t have any razors for breakfast I had a nice Oat & Raisin smoothie. I merely asked the question to ensure you didn’t have any problem with it.

          Again, the number of years Max and Lewis have spent with their teams, along with how dominant their car is, has nothing to do with the claim you made. Lest you forget, the claim was about adaptability to various changing conditions.

          Also, lest you forget, Lewis’s skill at adapting to changing conditions during a race was evident BEFORE he ever stepped in a Mercedes. Again, this is because this particular skill is about the driver, rather than the car.

          It is even more ridiculous to claim that because a driver usually starts from the first row, or because he isn’t troubled by his teammates, that somehow has a positive impact on his ability to adapt to changing conditions. Does that even make sense? All drivers face the SAME conditions on the track – irrespective of where they start and who their teammates are.

          Your argument even contradicts itself. Verstappen has barely been troubled his teammates, yet you claim he is one of the best at adapting to changing conditions. Or is this particular illogic you are presenting only reserved for Lewis Hamilton?

          It seems you are confusing your initial claim regarding adaptability, to a drivers general performance on the track based on his car. Again, your claim was SPECIFICALLY about adaptability in changing and unpredictable conditions, and the dominance of the car being driven simply has nothing to do with this quality. More so, it isn’t like Verstappen and Hamilton dont have teammates driving exactly the same car, but who dont perform as well in such changeable conditions.

          Yes, I know you were merely pointing out a virtue of Max, which i incidentally agree with. However, i was also pointing out that there was another driver who is better than he at this virtue. It seems you are unable to accept this.

          For example, Lewis Hamilton beat Max Verstappen to pole position by 1.2 secs at a rain lashed 2020 Styrian GP qualifying. We know the Mercedes isn’t 1.2 secs faster than Red Bull in the dry. We also know that wet and mixed conditions largely act as equalizers, reducing the deficit between cars, and allowing driver skill to shine through. If so, then Max in the Red Bull should have reduced the dry qualifying deficit to Lewis in the Mercedes. However, the deficit grew larger.

          So, this issue isn’t about what Max Verstappen is capable of in a dominant car, nor is it about how many races or championships he can win if he had a car like the Mercedes (you seem to have a bee in your bonnet about that). It is simply about adaptability in changing conditions. And whilst he may be quite good at that, there is another driver who is better. You should simply accept this. Everyone else can.

          1. @kbdavies Unfortunately you have made this a Max vs LH thing when I was very clear in my first comment, and then following that, that Max is ‘better than many’ and not ‘better than all.’ It sounds like you are the one with the bee in the bonnet at any perceived slight against LH and I don’t know how much more diplomatic and careful I could have been to give LH his props.

            I was not talking about one specific rainy race nor about how well Max or LH does in the rain or under any other specific variations of wet to dry, dry to wet, fully dry, hot, cold, whatever. I was talking about Max’s ability as was highlighted in a video analyzing his abilities, to be able to adapt within a lap, and lap after lap, as the car’s tire behaviour changes, as fuel loads lower, etc etc. Much more on the fly and at the moment than you are generalizing when you speak of years in a car or of a specific race. This is (was) about how Max can more quickly than many, feel the car and it’s changing characteristics minute by minute which is one of the secrets, or special talents, as to why he is as good as he is.

            I cannot make it more clear than that. This is a topic about Max and I was only talking about Max, and you chose to take offence assuming I was claiming a negative about LH, and it was never about LH. You can’t seem to accept a glowing review about Max from a fan without inserting a reminder about LH, and nobody needs reminding about all that LH has done for that is apparent. But would everyone know something such as what Max is doing within each lap that makes him so good too? Not necessarily and I was fascinated by an analysis that took it and broke it down to what he is doing within each lap.

            You want to play the ‘oh ya well LH can do this and LH can do that’ game then as I say that is you with a bee in his bonnet not me.

        2. Didnt Max have the fastest car in Portugal? With the pressure of performance he got overwhelmed and Choked.he threw away a gimme pole. Panicked at the start and f,, up an easy how many fundamental mistakes can one make in on weekend and there wasnt even a championship pressure…..thats the real performance idicator for Max not beating Albon who wasn’t even good in lower series…..Any one can take a lap from any driver on the grid and wax lyrics about it……what define a driver is how they performance when the pressure is on…..

          So far Max has History of choking at the big moments .he was comfortable edging out Riccardo until the moment to become the youngest pole-sitter and every time he bottled it , with Ricardo taking 3poles from him and Max failing to become youngest pole sitter

          1. Wow, that perspective. Watching totally different events we are

        3. Yes, I also thought schumacher was similar to verstappen in that sense.

          As far as the rain argument goes, keep in mind wet weather skill isn’t so simple to gauge in “recent” times, already in 2003-2006 the tyres played a very important role, with bridgestone basically giving 2 free seconds per lap to their drivers compared to michelin, and the situation reversed by 2006, and in more recent times the car’s handling seems to play an important role, verstappen has also shined in wet races like interlagos 2016, he didn’t seem to have trouble keeping up with hamilton’s pace, but in the last few years mercedes seems superior in the wet too, it’s not just hamilton. Ferrari also seemed particularly bad in the wet lately, it was only in turkey that they performed.

  2. he sometimes makes silly outbursts but he’s spot on on that matter.
    Max is a straight talker and has kinda grown up.

  3. From all the smoke and mirrors that teams and media people create it is a blessing to read some insight and perspective from a character like Verstappen Jr. Here is hoping his and Perez’ talent are not wasted on a dud of a chassis/engine.

    1. For sure. Hard to imagine it would be a dud though. I fully expect that they will have progressed the car, but then it is a matter of by how much vs the competition, as always.

      1. As much as I would like to believe that, I’ve lost faith in Newey and Horner quite some time ago. And I am being supercritical here, I know. Its still the 2nd car out there which is an achievement in itself. But that final step has been promised year on year on year on year on year.

        1. Yes, I also lost faith in newey, for all the talks of him being a genius etc. he’s not delivered when it mattered lately, ofc the engine hasn’t always been at the same level, but when it was closer the aerodynamic came out being lacking.

          1. Newey’s accomplishments are unprecedented but that doesn’t mean he is perfect nor that it takes only one man to defeat a giant like Mercedes in the hybrid era. I suggest that as much as RBR haven’t been able to put a big enough dent in Mercedes, they’d be a lot further off without AN. And this with RBR not being a factory works team for the bulk of this era which is only being corrected in these recent years with Honda, which even then has not been quite the same advantage that Mercedes, Ferrari, and Renault have had as makers of their own pu and chassis all in-house.

        2. Hey you do acknowledge you are being supercritical which is good and I’d only just say that they have not made ‘promise after promise’ of anything other than to try their level best.

          1. Meant as a reply to Mayrton

  4. Well last year Verstappen said he’ll be fighting to win the title with Mercedes. After his worst season in F1, he clearly has changed his opinion, or his hyper hyped hopes.

    1. “After his worst season in F1”

      What worst season in F1? It was his best season in F1. Verstappen was flawless in 2020 apart from Turkey and even then his front wing was messed up from the team’s mistake. He had 5 DNFs that were out of his control and he still finished only 9 points behind Bottas.

    2. alex is that exactly what Max said last year? I mean sure they’re all ‘fighting to win the title with Mercedes.’ Maybe you have some quotes from him? And…his worst season? I suppose you have some definition for that, but I would have thought his worst season(s) were the ones where he was making mistakes out of youthful exuberance and losing positions and points because of that. Hyper hyped hopes? You have really gleaned that from Max? I have found him to always sound mature beyond his years for the most part when it comes to actual racing and actual hopes and expectations. He’s never been unreasonable with those, imho.

  5. So who said Honda was almost on par already?

  6. Something tells me Red Bull and Honda will spring a surprise this season. It is their last chance of keeping Max Verstappen.

    1. @kbdavies I’m guardedly optimistic for RBR and Honda this season too, but I don’t see it as their last chance of keeping Max, for no matter what happens this season I don’t think there will be anywhere better for Max to go.

      1. Max is definitely going to end up at Mercedes a year early, or when his contract runs out. Mark my words.

        1. Yes, it’s a shame but if red bull keep underperforming (for their expectations ofc, so 2nd car is underperforming for them) verstappen will have to go to mercedes to win some title.

  7. Dave (@davewillisporter)
    26th February 2021, 1:08

    Max Verstappen:

    “The car is always on the edge,” he said. “A fast car is never super-easy to drive. If it becomes super-easy to drive, most of the time it’s too understeery anyway.

    Absolute gold! I’m bookmarking this quote from Max next time someone says Lewis doesn’t make mistakes because the car is easy to drive or Lewis is only fast because of the car!!

    I think Max is an amazing driver but some of his fans, (like some of Lewis’s) are loony stans.

    They have mutual respect for each other because they know the performance level that the other driver is at; that being the very top of their game.

    1. @davewillisporter I think what happens too is top drivers in top cars can get to a point where they make it look easy. Same with top athletes in other sports too. Eg. Tom Brady. Novak Djokovic.

    2. What relevance does the quote have if Max has never driven the Merc? A guy talking about driving a Red Bull is a defense of Hamilton now?

      That aside you can find plenty of drivers who will tell you that a fast car is one that’s easy to drive, it’s very much subjective.

      1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        26th February 2021, 17:22

        The relevance of this quote is, that is Max’s opinion based on his entire career and of every car he’s driven during it. In other words…. an EXPERT view.
        It also happens to be true from a historical perspective. The fastest cars have always had a certain characteristic that both makes them that way and is difficult to master. The skill of the driver is to drive up to and not beyond that limit as smoothly as possible because of the twitchy nature of peak performance cars.
        When a driver states the way it is accept it!

        1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
          26th February 2021, 17:23

          Also you can find plenty of drivers who aren’t the best! Who’s opinion would you value more, Mr average or Mr excellent?

  8. @kbdavies Well I truly find that very interesting that you have that level of confidence in your opinion on that. Of course it is very possible for I can only speculate what I think too, which is that LH is at Mercedes through 2023 and therefore they will not be having Max there until 2024 earliest. I suppose some of your confidence has to do with your thinking that RBR’s pu is just not going to be enough to satisfy Max in the near future? Or that indeed LH will not stay through 2023? Probably safe to say Max won’t be spending his entire career at RBR, but still…

    1. Oops of course meant to attach that as a response to you above @kbdavies

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