Formula 1 Racing

Verstappen expects Red Bull developments to maintain “quite big” lead over rivals · RaceFans

Verstappen expects Red Bull developments to maintain "quite big" lead over rivals · RaceFans

Red Bull are continuing to press ahead with their development programme despite enjoying a substantial performance advantage over their rivals, says Max Verstappen.

The team has made a dominant start to 2023, scoring one-two finishes in four of the first five races. However it is permitted less development time than any of its rivals, partly due to its victory in last year’s world championship and also because its testing allocation was cut as part of its penalty for exceeding the budget cap in 2021.

Verstappen won last Sunday’s race in Miami with a 26-second advantage over the team’s closest rival. Although other teams such as Mercedes are expected to bring significant upgrades over the coming races in an effort to catch Red Bull, the world champion believes his team will be able to uphold their lead.

“We have a decent advantage, especially in the race. Over one lap in some tracks, definitely some cars will be close or in front, like you could see in Baku. But that race pace advantage I think is quite big at the moment.”

He indicated Red Bull will be ready for their rivals’ development push. “It’s not like the others are bringing new bits and we’re just standing still,” he said. “So hopefully we can just keep it going like we’re doing now.”

Red Bull’s race pace advantage meant Verstappen could afford to be patient in traffic in the opening laps of the Miami Grand Prix.

“I was just really staying out of trouble at the beginning because the people around me tried to gain positions as quickly as possible on lap one. But knowing that you have a quick car, then once it all settles down you just try to pick them up one by one.

“That worked out quite well. I had even a three-wide on the straight, which was quite entertaining.”

Verstappen quickly rose from ninth on the grid to take second place, then chased down team mate Sergio Perez to win the race.

“We had good pace, I could look after my tyres,” said Verstappen. “Once I was in clean air, it was just about getting to that lap number we targeted. That’s why in the middle of that stint, I was not entirely sure if I was going to make it.

“But then I was getting close to the number and I said ‘okay, this is good’. So then I started pushing, I could extend the gap again, which really made my race today, because once we pitted then I had the fresher tyres to the end.”

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