F1 | Bahrain Testing | Verstappen's 'predictable' RB16B is 'nice to drive'
Max Verstappen has declared that the RB16B is acting in a more predictable way – and that is great news for the neutral fan of F1.
Max Verstappen finished a condensed 2020 Formula One season on the top step of the podium in Abu Dhabi. It took a while for the RB16’s potential to be exploited as through the early part of the season, the team had to endure anomalies concerning the aerodynamics of Red Bull Racing’s 2020 challenger. A driver must have full confidence in their machinery and be able to fully commit to corners at high speeds but unfortunately the aerodynamic issues meant that the rear end acted in an unpredictable way. As a result of this, Max Verstappen (as well as his then teammate Alex Albon) did not have the secure feeling of being able to drive - to the max! For 2021, Max Verstappen has declared that the RB16B is acting in a more predictable way – and that is great news for the neutral fan of F1.
Max Verstappen dominated the 2020 Abu Dhabi GP and finished the race nearly 16 seconds ahead of second-place man Valtteri Bottas. This victory was only the Dutchman’s second victory of 2020 with his previous success coming at Silverstone during the 4th round of the Championship. Throughout the season, Max Verstappen had always shown a lot of pace and his final flourish in Abu Dhabi resulted in many critics wondering what could have been.
However, having finished the first day of the 2021 pre-season test in Bahrain at the top of the timing charts, there are early signs that 2021 could be the best year yet for Max Verstappen.
Speaking to Dutch TV channel Ziggo Sport, Max Verstappen reflected on his early success at pre-season testing in 2021:
“The feeling after the first couple of runs, of course, you always have to adjust things and so on, but it felt very positive,” Verstappen explained. “At one point I had a good balance in the car and it just felt nice to drive. It was very, how do you say, predictable!"
Max Verstappen’s victory in Abu Dhabi was his 10th in Formula One and having had 139 incident-free laps on the first day of pre-season testing, it is clear Red Bull Racing – and Max Verstappen – are raring to go:
“If you have a day like today, that you can do so many laps, that's actually what you always want to have,” Verstappen said. “Especially at a track like Bahrain, where it's always very hard on the tyres. And especially today, because it was very hot and there was a lot of wind. So to do so many laps is just very positive.
“The goal is always to do this many laps. That’s on your run sheet every day. But usually you don't manage to that amount due to various small problems or whatever. But we didn't have that at all.”
Nevertheless, Max Verstappen is keeping his feet on the ground whenever any comments of ‘Championship contender’ are directed towards him:
It's always difficult to say, but from our side we just had a good day. We drove a lot, had no problems and the car just feels good. And it's just a good start for us, which makes things nice for the coming two days.”
Should Max Verstappen continue this form into qualifying of the 2021 F1 season, it bodes well for his chances of success by leading from the front - as he declared upon winning in Abu Dhabi last year:
“Once you get to start up front, you can control the pace and it makes your life a bit easier. … I enjoy that I won. I’m going to enjoy the podium.”
Many a Formula One fan looks set to enjoy the 2021 F1 season. Especially as it looks like more than one manufacturer will be vying for success at the front of the pack.