Max Verstappen warns Red Bull after missing Canada pole: Must work cleanly again

Max Verstappen opened the 2024 Formula 1 season with seven poles in a row. However, he suffered two consecutive defeats in Monaco and Canada, and before that he only managed to save the first place on the grid in Imola with a lot of luck and skill. The competition is closing in on Red Bull in qualifying, and the way the team has performed in recent weekends is causing concern.

Since Miami, i.e. for four races, Red Bull has not managed a clean weekend. “Overall, this weekend was a bit chaotic on our side again,” said Verstappen in Canada. Here, a brand new power unit suffered a defect on Friday and had to be replaced. “Just too many small problems.” The fact that he ended up driving the same lap time as pole-sitter George Russell, 1:12.000, is only a limited consolation.

“Having the same time is great, but if you look back at their pace, I’ll take second place,” Verstappen points out. Mercedes. “Because in Q2 I saw their lap times and thought there was no chance I could do something like that.” He needed help from both Mercedes. They couldn’t manage the last lap on the soft tires in Q3.

Verstappen concerned about Red Bull’s trend after defect

So the gap between Verstappen and Mercedes should actually be bigger. Qualifying itself wasn’t bad, but the path to it was unsatisfactory: “I think we got a solid balance together for qualifying, I was pretty happy with that. But we just have to have clean weekends without any problems. That would help a bit too.”

In Canada, it was not just setup difficulties, but above all a technical defect in the hybrid system of the third of four permitted power units, which had only been installed this weekend. After just 14 laps, the brand new engine had to be replaced again on Friday. Verstappen will drive the rest of the Canadian weekend with an older power unit, while the new one will be put out of service for analysis.

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The training time lost on Friday probably didn’t help Verstappen. The setup may have been good, but not his tire warm-up tactics on the decisive lap. “It’s a game of tire warm-up here, and I think our warm-up lap was too fast,” analyzed Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Dr. Helmut Marko on ServusTV. “Max complained, and it was also clear how the tires had worn down in sector 3.”

Trust in Red Bull racing pace: No Monaco problems in Canada

“In that sense, it’s a good idea to be at the same time as Russell,” Marko accepts. “I think we might have the better package in race trim.” While Verstappen missed many laps on Friday due to a defect, the race preparation was not one of them. Due to the changeable weather, that could only take place on Saturday in the third free practice session. But that’s exactly why everyone is unsure what the picture for the race will really look like.

The positive side for Red Bull is that there are no significant problems with driving over the kerbs or with the bumps. After Monaco, this problem on the RB20 was a major focus, and in Montreal, too, the kerbs in the chicanes have to be taken seriously. Of course, the car has a harder time with this than some of the competition, says Verstappen, but: “Monaco has a lot of slow corners where you need driving comfort and mechanical grip. There is more aero involved here.”

This means that the RB20 can play to its strengths more often and better conceal its weaknesses. “We know about the limitations and we have to work on them, but I think second place is generally quite good,” concludes Verstappen.

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