Max Verstappen sounds the alarm: Red Bull dominance over

Max Verstappen looked almost like a sure winner in the Formula 1 qualifying in Barcelona. After Red Bull had been weak in training, the world champions found their form at the decisive moment. In the end, however, it was not enough for the eighth pole position of the season. Although the defeat against McLaren driver Lando Norris was extremely close, Verstappen is alarmed. He is demanding that the team work harder to keep the competition at bay.

“We are wide awake and we have to put pressure on to bring out faster and better parts. We had a very dominant car last year, but that has completely disappeared. We have to take another step forward,” the three-time champion warned In Montreal, he lost out to Mercedes driver George Russell despite having identical lap times. This time, Norris beat him by two hundredths of a second.

“It took a bit of fine-tuning to make the car fast. But I don’t have the feeling that it’s always just fine-tuning. Sometimes it feels like we’re just lacking a bit of pace,” said the Dutchman, who was once again lagging behind the competition in practice at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The level of performance is extremely high on the race weekend in Spain and Verstappen only finished fourth in the qualifying dress rehearsal in FP3.

Red Bull revamps setup

“In general, qualifying felt miles better for me than practice. In the sessions, the car didn’t feel balanced for me and in qualifying, it clicked much better,” said Verstappen, who set the fastest time in both Q1 and Q2. But in the final, he had already reached the end of the line.

“We were strong in the high-speed sections, turns three, nine and the final corner. They were relatively relaxed and full throttle, and in the last run we didn’t improve any more because the corners were already full. There was nothing left to gain,” he explains. “Lando probably hadn’t driven through them at full speed before and we lost out to him.”

After the practice sessions, the RB20’s setup was adjusted. “We could perhaps have used fewer wings now that the car was finally running. But that’s how it goes. At least the car felt more normal again with the setup changes,” said Verstappen. “We used the larger wing in qualifying because the car wasn’t stable enough. That fixed it. Then it got cooler and as a result there are fewer and fewer corners in which you can gain something because the corners are now full throttle. That means you have more air resistance.”

Verstappen had expected more for Barcelona

On his last lap in Q3, he even benefited from the slipstream of teammate Sergio Perez. “It was a coincidence. I didn’t even know that Checo was on a lap and they told me where he was. So I thought I’d try to hang on,” explains Verstappen. Overall, he would have expected better performance in Barcelona.

“It was okay but definitely not good enough. I had hoped to be at the front on a race track like this. But the other teams are catching up, we saw that in the last few races. It’s much harder now. We have to be perfect everywhere to be first and bring more performance to the car,” the 26-year-old continued.

In the past, the long run to turn one in Barcelona was often more of a curse than a blessing for the pole-setter. But Verstappen does not see himself as having an advantage from second place: “You always want to start first. It’s easier to defend yourself. And the top speeds are similar here, there is no DRS at the moment. In the end, it all depends on how well you get away.”

Lando Norris expects McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari to be equally capable of winning on Sunday. Verstappen is not yet sure. “It is not yet clear where we stand in terms of long-run pace. But I hope that it will be very close, as in the last few races. The tyre wear here is very high and we have to take good care of the tyres. We also do not know what the track conditions will be like tomorrow, as it may rain overnight and in the morning. All these factors play a role,” said the defending champion.

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