A confident Max Verstappen says he is in “a very positive place” with the 2023 Red Bull after an impressive pre-season testing for the defending champion.
Verstappen was quickest on the opening day of testing and only just kept off top spot on day two, before teammate Sergio Perez set the pace on the final day in Bahrain. On top of that, Red Bull amassed over 400 laps across the three days and looked to be comfortably ahead of the rest of the field, with Verstappen buoyed by the performance shown by the RB19.
“It’s been very good,” Verstappen said. “I think the car is working really well. Just going through a lot of things that we wanted to try. It’s very interesting what we have been trying. A very positive place for me. Just enjoying driving the new car.
“There are quite a few differences on the car. Definitely drives a bit different, but I think that’s also related to the tires. But overall, I think it’s definitely an improvement to last year.
“It’s not only about confidence, it’s about actually just putting the performance down. I think we have had really positive test days, we’ve learned a lot. Hopefully we just start the weekend well, and we’ll see where we end up.”
Red Bull ended last season with the quickest car and won both titles in dominant fashion, and Verstappen says the way it has developed the new car is designed to build on its existing strengths.
“I think after last year, the philosophy of the car in general didn’t really change. Just trying to find more performance on it. I think all the things that we have on the car are well thought out and tested well on the simulator as well. There’s nothing really rushed or things on the car that we know are slower. Everything that we put on the car is faster.
“Our goal is to win and win the championship only.”
And Verstappen is not concerned that Red Bull will have major difficulties developing its car despite a further restriction on its aerodynamic testing time due to exceeding the cost cap last season.
“The main issue we had last year was that the car was massively overweight. In the beginning, the car was very lazy, it was not turning in, because the weight was also in the wrong place of the car. Throughout the year, we got rid of that, and you could see the performance was increasing a lot and it became more of a race car.
“And this year, just a continuation, but also things that we found and put on the car that were clearly better. We already have things in the pipeline, they are coming. Just a work in progress. We know what our limitations are, and we work around.”