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F1 Rivals Close In Verstappen Raises Alarm

Verstappen Warns: ‘McLaren and Ferrari are closing in’

07/06/2024

Max Verstappen highlights a shift in F1 dynamics as McLaren and Ferrari close the gap on Red Bull’s dominance.

Verstappen has stated that his Red Bull Racing team took a “hit” after their last performance in Monaco.

This weekend, the F1 circus moves to a track with both different and similar characteristics in terms of curbs and bumps. The Dutchman feels McLaren and Ferrari are poised to capitalize.

Verstappen scored only eight points at the Monaco Grand Prix, his lowest weekend total since July 2022. As was the case on the bumpy city circuit of Singapore in 2023, Red Bull experienced performance issues, allowing rivals to gain an advantage.

“This has been a problem since the first day of the new regulations, and it’s something we know. We haven’t managed to fix it yet. I think after Monaco, it was another wake-up call. A hit to the head. McLaren and Ferrari are closing in.”

“We’ve had a lot of good meetings at the factory and discussions where I feel there’s now a bit more focus on trying to improve this because I feel that with everyone naturally catching up, we can no longer rely on our advantage, even though my driving over the curbs is aggressive.”

The Dutch driver continued by saying that it will not be a quick fix for Red Bull, and it’s a problem that will continue to trouble them.

“It absolutely needs to be fixed. But it takes a bit of time to really make significant changes to the car because some things are designed that way, and they might need to be rethought. And you can’t do that just like that. I think it will take some time.”

Helmut Marko had previously explained that the simulator results did not match reality. Verstappen elaborated on this point in Canada.

“In the simulator, they are probably too good, and it gives you a misleading idea of how to set up the car. On some tracks, I think we do a better job than on others. But honestly, I think if you ask anyone, it’s the same thing. It’s very difficult to get everything right all the time. It helps us, and we can try a lot of things on the simulator, but some tracks work a bit better than others on a computer.”

Sergio Perez feels it is “natural” to see Red Bull threatened.

“It’s the third year that the same rules apply. It is natural that teams get closer to us. We are also struggling more to find performance. But yes, we know where our next performance gain will come from. I don’t think we have unlocked a lot this year compared to other teams.”

“So, I hope that once we are able to unlock some of this performance, we will be in better shape, particularly on different types of circuits. But yes, the competition is very, very strong. And I think this weekend, three or four teams can potentially clinch a victory. It’s great to have this competition.”

F1 Rivals Close In Verstappen Raises Alarm

F1 2026 Changes: Verstappen Hesitant on Impact

Max Verstappen praises F1’s 2026 updates but remains skeptical about their overall effectiveness.

On Thursday, the FIA released images of what it anticipates for a 2026 F1 car, along with a number of updates to the technical regulations before their ratification later this month. The new power units, which rely more on electric energy and 100% sustainable fuel, had faced criticism last year due to a potential loss of power when deployment stopped on certain straights, but Verstappen states that improvements have been made since.

“I’ve seen a lot of simulations. It’s not like it suddenly came out now and we’re starting to develop; it’s something that has existed and has been refined of course. And I must say that from the first time I saw it to the latest updates I’ve seen, I think they have made very good progress on how the engine works with the chassis and the relationship on the straights and all that.”

“I think some tracks will be better than others, naturally, when you’re more limited in energy, but that’s something we have to manage.”

However, overall, Verstappen is uncertain about the performance these slightly lighter and smaller F1 cars will offer, with the introduction of active aerodynamics.

F1 2026 Changes Verstappen Hesitant on Impact

“To be honest, I’m quite skeptical. New rules are new rules, I think it’s also a bit of a consequence of the engine. They say it’s 50:50 between the engine and the battery, but it’s not really like that, which is why we need active aero on straights to reduce drag—to make it sustainable to do a proper lap, otherwise you run out of battery. I think that’s a problem they’ve discovered.”

“Of course, the more you keep the same regulations, the closer the teams get. So 2026 will probably be a kind of reset, not only on the car performance side but also on the engine side. People can apply the rules well and have a big advantage on the engine, maybe; it’s something we don’t know right now, but some people probably feel more confident about it than others.”

“But on the other hand, F1 also wanted to attract new manufacturers and needed a regulation change to make that happen. We’ll see. I’m very pleasantly surprised when I get in the real car and say, ‘Oh, this is amazing!’ I don’t know, but for now, I’m in the middle of the road, neither positive nor negative.”

Verstappen was also unsure whether the planned 30 kg weight reduction is achievable given current constraints, but stated that “it was too small a change to make a significant difference.”

As for the removal of the DRS, replaced by an electric push-to-pass to facilitate overtaking, Verstappen joked.

“Maybe we’ll need bananas and a bit more fuel!” he quipped, referencing Mario Kart.

“I hope not, let’s put it that way. But for now, many people are still wondering how all this is going to work out. We certainly need to do some more simulations.”

“If it works well, that’s the main thing, isn’t it? Honestly, I find it a bit difficult to determine at the moment, as it will depend a lot on how you can follow, then the effectiveness of the electric boost and the speed of the recharge mode. There are a lot of things we’ll have to think about on the fly anyway. I think it’s important that everyone, even those who design or develop the rules, understands how everything will function properly.”

F1 2026 Changes Verstappen Hesitant on Impact

F1 Rivals Close In, Verstappen Raises Alarm. F1 Rivals Close In, Verstappen Raises Alarm. 2024 F1 Rivals Close In Verstappen Raises Alarm

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