In the run up to a difficult weekend for all teams and drivers, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen is hoping he can build on the successful performances he has been having throughout the season so far.
Although this year’s trip to Spa-Francorchamps will be a less joyous affair than previous visits, Verstappen aims to push on and enjoy all the challenging track has to offer- capitalising on new upgrades to his RB16 in order to achieve a better result than in past instances.
Last year, the Dutchman was involved in a first corner collision with seasoned pro Kimi Räikkönen, resulting in Verstappen’s retirement on the first lap of the grand prix- much to the evident disappointment of The Orange Army.
This year, though, Max and Red bull are confident that their hard work in producing new improvements for the car during the week-long break will aid their efforts to contend with the dominant Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team.
In a pre-weekend Q&A, Verstappen expressed his excitement to return to the famed Spa circuit, giving us a sense of the exhilaration experienced by drivers tackling it’s challenging high-speed corners and detailing his favourite parts of the legendary track.
“I love Spa, it’s my favourite circuit on the calendar so I’m always looking forward to driving there. It’s a bit more old school as well so there’s not too much run off in some places. The elevation changes throughout the whole track, you go up and down and there are not too many slow corners, which is always very nice in an F1 car because you really get to experience the full speed and the middle sector at Spa gives you that.”, said the Dutchman.
He continued: “My favourite part of the track is Pouhon especially, the fast left hander, it’s really fast. Getting the balance right in sectors one, two and three with the long straight and infield is crucial and so there are always compromises here and there. You’re also running quite low downforce, so low wing, which means the car is really alive and moving around which makes it more exciting.”
With regards to his expectations for the weekend, Verstappen had this to say on the potential of his car:
“We’re second in the Teams’ and Drivers’ Championship so now we just need to try and keep the momentum going. There are lots of long straights which of course means you can overtake here, but also I expect the guys behind us in qualifying will be very close and knowing Mercedes have a lot of power they will obviously be very quick too.“
“Over the last few years it has been a bit up and down in terms of results for us but you never know. We don’t expect this race will be our favourite this year in terms of the layout suiting our package but we will be pushing hard as we have done at every race and maximising the result as a Team.“
Albon: “We are improving step by step”
One year into his stint at Red Bull, Alexander Albon is adamant that progress is being made on his tricky RB16. The Thai driver has had a few painful races this year, but notes that ‘just like everyone else’, Red Bull are working hard to iron out any creases that may have formed on the car.
“With six races under our belt we know the areas we need to work on and the guys at the factory are working flat out to make the car better, faster but also easier to drive. Everything’s going pretty well, we are improving step by step and experimenting on what works and what doesn’t, just like everyone else.”
As his first race with the Milton-Keynes-based team was in Spa, the youngster reflected on his time in Formula 1- which he admits has been a whirlwind.
“I was pretty nervous going into my first race with the Team. Obviously you want to do a good job because you want to make a good impression. I didn’t know anyone, and I’d only been in F1 for six months with Toro Rosso, so going to a big team was obviously very new to me. Now I know everyone, I’m settled in with the Team, we’re making progress each weekend, so it’s nice to go back to the circuit where it all started.“
“It’s gone fast, that’s for sure. It definitely doesn’t feel like a year. I’m looking forward to this weekend, I can take what I learned from last year’s race and apply it to this one so there’s a bit of experience that I can take with me which is nice.”
Both Albon and Verstappen will be very keen to score some good points this weekend in order to further their endeavours to clinch second in the constructors’ championship for Red Bull.