“Very frustrating” Australian GP showed where Red Bull had gone wrong – Verstappen

2023 Australian Grand Prix

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Red Bull left Australia 12 months ago at a low ebb after seeing rivals Ferrari claim another win while both their cars lagged off the pace and one didn’t even reach the chequered flag.

But the team transformed its fortunes over the remainder of the season and now finds itself in a position of clear superiority. In the 21 races since the last Australian Grand Prix, Red Bull has only been beaten three times.

Max Verstappen recalled how challenging last year’s race was for the team during today’s press conference in Melbourne. Following last year’s race the eventual champion languished sixth in the standings, 46 points behind Charles Leclerc, who had just scored his second win in three races.

“Last year our car was very heavily overweight at this stage of the season, so that didn’t help,” said Verstappen. The team was also grappling with handling problems. “We had a big shift in balance between qualifying and the race, so that caught us out in the race.”

Leclerc beat Verstappen to pole position by almost three-tenths of a second, though the Red Bull driver claimed a place on the front row of the grid after Carlos Sainz Jnr made a mistake in the other Ferrari.

Verstappen fell back from Leclerc in the race and was on course to finish second when his power unit failed. It was his second retirement from the first three races of the year. “We were not reliable so that, of course, is never nice at the beginning of the year,” he said.

Sergio Perez saved some face for the team by finishing second, albeit 20 seconds by the flying Leclerc. Verstappen said the team’s disappointing race in Australia helped them understand how to get the best out of their car.

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“We knew that there was a lot of potential in that car, just from the updates, but especially from the weight side of the car. Last year was very frustrating here, being slow in the race, retiring from the race. But I think we also understood quite quickly after the weekend, what we did wrong, of course, with the set-up.”

The team made reliability gains as well, and has only failed to get either car to the chequered flag due to technical problems once since that race. “From then onwards it was quite alright in terms of reliability,” said Verstappen. “And of course we made big steps with the performance of the car.”

Red Bull has started the new season with back-to-back one-two finishes. They are strong favourites to take their first victory at the Albert Park since 2011 this weekend.

Verstappen has the opportunity to claim his first ever victory at the Albert Park track.

“The last few years we’ve never really been that good at the beginning of the year,” said Verstappen. “So, I think if this race would have been in a different place on the calendar then probably we would have had a lot better results here. That’s not how it is, but for sure we do need a bit of a good result here.”

Despite Red Bull’s strong start to the season, Verstappen would only allow that they have “a good chance for a good result,” on Sunday. “But we do need to execute a good weekend yet.”

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2023 Australian Grand Prix

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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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