Red Bull’s RB14 is ready to hit the ground running this weekend, but Max Verstappen fears the Renault-powered car will suffer a significant deficit to its rivals on the straights.
The Milton Keynes-based team enjoyed an early start to the design of its 2018 charger in a bid to perform at the outset in Melbourne, rather than begin the season on a low key and progressively build its momentum thereafter, as has been the case in the past few years.
Indeed even Lewis Hamilton has cast a positive view on Red Bull’s chances this weekend, but Verstappen remains guarded as the Dutchman underlines Renault’s power shortfall against Mercedes and Ferrari.
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“The car, compared to last year, definitely made some good improvements, but for sure everybody improved,” said Verstappen on Thursday.
“From my personal feeling we have quite a strong car. But we have to wait and see how good our overall package is with the straights here.
“It is definitely going to be a bit painful there. For sure I am optimistic but also realistic, so we will just have to wait and see.”
Verstappen hopes for more progress from Renault but insists Red Bull will also be required to hold its own in F1’s frantic in-season development race.
“We have to be on top of that as well compared to Mercedes and Ferrari,” he said.
“In the past it has always been a strong point for Red Bull, the development during the season, but we have to wait and see how it is going to be this year again.
“It is a different year again. But I am confident in the team that they can build a great car and also maintain that. But the overall package needs to be right.”
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