Verstappen 'not disheartened' by gap to Mercedes

Jonathan Noble
·2-min read

Although Mercedes stopped development of its current W11 several months ago so it could focus on work for next year, the German car manufacturer has still maintained its pace advantage.

At this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, Verstappen ended up 0.414 seconds adrift of pole position man Lewis Hamilton.

But while Verstappen would like to be closer to Mercedes, he is aware that there are some issues on the RB16 that cannot be addressed until the winter.

“We are pushing hard, of course, to close it, but we know there are some weaknesses in the car that we can’t fix this year so we have to wait until next year,” said the Dutchman.

“Of course, I would have liked to be closer, but we’re just learning about this car. Of course we know we have to make some changes for next year and we will try to put it all together for next year and hopefully then we will be closer.”

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Although cars must run the same chassis in 2021, teams are allowed to make changes to the aerodynamics – which is an area where Red Bull has traditionally excelled.

Mercedes stopped bringing updates to its car a while ago, but Hamilton thinks that the team has been able to extract more speed from its car in recent months thanks to understanding it better.

“Whilst we’ve not brought updates we have continued to improve through the season, particularly after we’ve stopped developing the car because we’re understanding the tyres more and understanding the whole package more and more, and refining how we use it more and more,” said the world champion.

“I think it’s been a really interesting process – but that’s how it often goes. I think we’re in a good position in terms of trying to prepare for next year but I haven’t been to the wind tunnel or anything, I haven’t been back to the factory hardly at all this year, so I have no idea where the next package is – but I have naturally full faith in the squad back at the factory.

“But you’ve seen the Red Bulls also continuing to improve. I think they have a very, very good car and perhaps with some more development of their engine I think they would even closer next year.”