Formula 1: Max Verstappen hopes to improve Red Bull's chance at Saudi Grand Prix
Red Bull will have a lot of catching up to do when Formula 1 enters the second race of the season in Jeddah for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix this weekend. Reigning world champion Max Verstappen hopes to put a disappointing season-opener performance at the Bahrain Grand Prix last weekend where he failed to win a single point. Even his teammate Sergio Perez drew blank, leaving Red Bull pointless after the first race.
Ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Verstappen said he is eager to return to the tracks stronger and faster. “Last weekend was a tough one for all of us to take. It was disappointing. You always say to yourself, and to the team as well, that we have to score points. It doesn't matter if it is first or second in the first race weekend," said Verstappen.
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On his prospects for the Saudi Grand Prix, Verstappen said, "The Jeddah track is still very new for us. Last year, the humidity was challenging. It's a really quick track with high-speed straights and this year's cars are slightly heavier so it's going to be interesting to see how they perform."
The 24-year-old Dutchman was seen venting his frustrations during the race in a radio exchange with his team before fuel supply problems forced him to stop with four laps remaining.
"You could see that. In turn one, I didn't risk too much in the fight with Charles. It was all clean and I was like 'I'm happy with second here', but to lose so many points was very disappointing. You know in a championship where sometimes it can be very tight, at the end, these are very important points," Verstappen added.
The Red Bull team admits that Ferrari probable has a better car at their disposal. Red Bull team chief Christian Horner said, "We may have made some strategic miscalculations, but Ferrari had the pace. It was encouraging for us that we took the fight to them. Max was obviously very disappointed, but he's pragmatic too and it's a long year. He knows we've got a good car. We've just got to get on top of understanding this issue."
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc won the Bahrain Grand Prix ahead of his team-mate Carlos Sainz in a one-two podium finish for the Italian team. This was Ferrari's first win since 2019 and installed them as leaders of the championship.
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton took third place for Mercedes-AMG Petronas. The German team admitted they have a lot of work to do, despite a third and fourth finish in Bahrain. Mercedes said their new car has several problems but hopes to upgrade for Jeddah.
"There's bouncing. The balance is poor. There is a lack of low-speed grip. We're struggling on traction. The drivability could be better. The tyre warm-up is not good enough ... and the car is a bit on the heavy side," Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes' trackside engineering boss, said.
Lewis Hamilton, who is now partnered by his new teammate George Russell, is aiming to win a record-equalling eighth championship title to draw level with Michael Schumacher. Mercedes too is aiming to add another constructor's title to its name this season.