Max Verstappen says the work done between Red Bull and Honda over the winter is looking promising but that he is reserving judgment on the RB16B’s potential until pre-season testing.
Red Bull completed a 100km shakedown of its new car at Silverstone on Wednesday, while also running a two-year-old RB15 at the same time. This year’s car is the last in full partnership with Honda before Red Bull takes over the power unit technology and the Japanese manufacturer leaves Formula 1, and a lot of work has been fast-tracked on the engine front as a result.
Describing what he wants from the new car when it runs in anger for the first time in Bahrain, Verstappen says: “More grip, more power.
“People always talked about the rear end being so twitchy — I think it’s just general grip we were lacking a bit. Also, we were a bit down on power. We know that — there’s no secret behind it, you can see it.
“So we worked a lot with Honda throughout the winter. It’s all looking promising but it doesn’t make sense now to hype it all 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 optimize everything.”
Although teammate Sergio Perez said he could feel the potential of the RB16B during the shakedown, Verstappen has a different approach and isn’t reading anything into the car on demo tires. However, he is confident that Red Bull took the right approach by developing last year’s sometimes difficult car longer than Mercedes in order to learn more for this season.
“The car is always on the edge and a fast car is never super easy to drive, because if it becomes super easy to drive, most of the time it is too understeery anyway. I just wanted more grip — it doesn’t mean that it’s tricky to drive because you just adapt to the situation you are in.
“I think at the end of the season Mercedes stopped developing that car from whenever, June or July, because you couldn’t really see a lot of updates. We just kept learning and we know we had a few issues with that car and we wanted to improve it. Also, knowing the regulations wouldn’t change that much — obviously the floor changed a bit but in general the car stayed very much the same. For us it was important to get on top of that and let’s see this year if we improved it even more and we are even better. Hopefully we can be more competitive compared to Mercedes.”