Fourth place in the Chinese Grand Prix is more than Max Verstappen expected, but the Red Bull driver laments the lack of race pace in the RB15 package which he is hoping improves as the season progresses.
Expectations were high in Australia when the Dutchman nabbed a podium but since then the true pecking order has emerged and with the Honda ‘party mode’ fully dialled-up in qualifying was half a second down on Valtteri Bottas’ pole-position winning time.
A day later in the race, the deficit was pretty much the same as the #33 Red Bull crossed the 56 lap race 27 seconds down on race winner Lewis Hamilton, again about half a second shy of the benchmark pace.
Reflecting on his performance in Shanghai, Verstappen wrote on his website, “We did have another good result points-wise, but during the race, there was not much action. To say frustrating is a bit extreme, but at this moment we lack race pace so then you need to make sure that you extract as many points as possible.”
“The season is still long and we have to hope that, at a certain point, when the upgrades come, we will be able to slot right back in.”
Last year Verstappen clattered into the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel while battling during the race, this year a similar scenario presented itself but this time no swapping paint occurred.
Asked if memories of the previous year incident tempered his attack on the German this time around, the Red Bull driver replied, “No, not at all. I saw an opportunity, but I was way too far from him and thought, I would still try it.”
“I knew that he was faster and that he also had colder tyres, so I tried to out-brake him. Even if I would have passed him, he was still quicker on that tyre and he still would have overtaken me back again.”
#MsportXtra pointed out in a Tweet that, since Verstappen’s DNF at the Hungarian Grand Prix “he never lost a spot from start to finish. 12 races in a row, that’s pretty impressive.”
But, according to Holland’s most famous 21-year-old, things could be even better, “So far I haven’t really had any decent start. With the Honda-engine, we’re still trying to find a good start. That is something that can be improved.”
“In Baku we are expecting new parts for the car and engine, the real work is set for a later date. It is hard to say at this moment. I find it a bit hard to be really able to gauge the season so far. This week Mercedes is fast and then the other week it’s Ferrari, for us it’s a bit of a question mark,” admitted Verstappen.
Big Question: What if Max’s patience runs out before they find the sweetspot in the RB15?
#F1 At the #HungarianGP of 2018, @Max33Verstappen ended up with a DNF but eversince, he never lost a spot from start to finish. 12 races in a row, that’s pretty impressive. @redbullracing #MsportXtra pic.twitter.com/lguKsTWl8B
— #MsportXtra (@MsportXtra) April 14, 2019