Max Verstappen believes Monza will cater to the top speed advantage of Mercedes’ car, which will require Red Bull to “nail every little detail” to be able to eventually counter its rival.
Verstappen’s popular home win last weekend at Zandvoort allowed the Dutchman to reclaim a three-point lead in the Drivers’ championship, but Red Bull still trails Mercedes in the Constructors’ standings by 12 points despite winning seven races this season – or eight if one factors in Spa – versus four for its adversary.
F1’s return to the Temple of Speed this week where low-downforce set-ups will be the norm should, on paper, favour Mercedes. Furthermore, looking at Red Bull’s recent track record at Monza, the Milton Keynes-based outfit hasn’t won at the venue since 2013.
“I expect Monza to suit Mercedes as it hasn’t been our best track for the last few years, but this year we are more competitive so you never know,” said Verstappen.
“If we continue what we have been doing, working well together as a team, and nail every little detail then we can be competitive but Mercedes might have a top speed advantage on us.”
With Red Bull and Mercedes tightly matched, regardless of the track, Verstappen believes it will be “the finer details” that will eventually allow his team to beat its rival.
“I don’t think either us or Mercedes have a big advantage over the other,” explained the Dutchman.
“At Zandvoort you could see in qualifying and the race that both of our cars are super close and Lewis was applying pressure for the entire race which meant we couldn’t afford to make any mistakes on the track, in the pit lane or on the pit wall, and we didn’t.
“I think it’s the finer details where you can make a difference. When you enter a race weekend you have to work hard as a team on the set-up and fine tuning the little details, that’s where the gains can be made.”
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Like Verstappen, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner believes that Mercedes will hold a performance advantage at Monza, but likely also at the following round at Sochi.
“I think their car and engine package has always been historically very strong at those two venues and they’ve been weaker venues for us,” commented Horner.
“So I expect them to have the advantage at the next two, but then after it should be nip and tuck, I would certainly hope.
“The next two weekends for us are about trying to limit the damage as much as we can and extract as much from the car as we can.”
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