Although Max Verstappen was beaten to victory in the F1 season opener by Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes, Red Bull believes the pace he showed throughout Sakhir’s event set him as part of a title challenge.
While Mercedes fears Red Bull already has the speed advantage, the Milton Keynes-based team are planning an aggressive update plan to make their car even faster.
Red Bull chief engineer Paul Monaghan said: “Some developments are already underway for Imola, more for the following races, so this is now a two-part fight.
“We need this car to be on the ground, to drive and not give us hiccups. We will put as much performance as possible on the car by Imola.
“Our destiny is in our control and we cannot influence what Mercedes, McLaren, Ferrari and everyone else want to do. So we have to stay focused. “
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
Mercedes says its data shows Red Bull’s car has no weaknesses compared to the W12, with Verstappen particularly quick in the high-speed sections of the Bahrain track last weekend.
But despite what looks good for Red Bull, the team believe there is still room for gains, and they know they can’t stand still against Mercedes.
Monaghan added: “We have identified some areas where the car can be improved and are focusing on those. We can’t influence what other people do, so we have to develop it, we have to make it bulletproof.
And the team is well aware that with the difference between Red Bull and Mercedes being so small, they will have to keep looking for more performance.
“It’s not just about going to Imola and having a win on the board and saying ‘oh we’re world champions’ – that’s not going to happen,” Monaghan continued.
“It’s going to be a long fight for a long season, and it’s not won and lost here [in Bahrain].
“There is a feeling of disappointment in the garage, which is felt by everyone, but we have a fast car, we have a fantastic pair of drivers, we have a good team and everyone is aware that we are going to be one. challenge throughout. ”