Max Verstappen says Red Bull needs to see an improvement from both its car and the Honda power unit if he is to challenge for the drivers’ championship this season.
A third consecutive fourth place in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix means Verstappen has finished every race in the top four so far this season, and he currently sits just one point behind third-placed Sebastian Vettel in the drivers’ championship. After closing on Vettel in the second stint in Baku, Verstappen had to settle for fourth following a late Virtual Safety Car, and he says another step is needed if the team is to be in contention for wins and the title.
“Well, we know that we lose time on the straights, I think it’s not a secret,” Verstappen said. “But I think car-wise, to really make a difference, we also need to step it up a bit more, but in the race there was not much I was complaining about.
“I mean, it shows that if you’re closing a gap by seven, eight seconds over that stint, the car is working. But of course, as the driver, you always want it to be better, and I hope as the engineer you always want it to be better.
“We were quick. But we ended up not being able to benefit from it for some reason. Of course, we were also a bit further back because we went a bit longer on that first set of tires. But on the other hand, if there would not have been a Virtual Safety Car, we would have all been very close together.”
Team principal Christian Horner has been impressed by Verstappen’s consistency, and believes the Dutchman is keeping himself in title contention.
“We’re at race four, I think he’s 36 points behind,” Horner said. “It’s a long, long way to go in the championship. We just have to take it one race at a time, but three fourth positions in a row is getting a little bit boring now. We want to be fighting for the podium again.”