The pre-season testing went smoothly for the Milton Keynes team. With Verstappen and Perez on board of the RB16B and the promising pace and good reliability over the three days in Bahrain, it was surely a contrast to the performance of and difficulties that were plaguing the Mercedes team and subsequently its drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
Although Red Bull is pretty optimistic about their performance, they’re far from celebrations and they’re aware that Mercedes will surely bounce back in no time from their difficulties encountered in Bahrain.
During and interview with German RTL station, Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko is content with what the team showed during testing, but also believes Mercedes is definitely not in such a bad situation as everybody seems to think.
As he said: "That was certainly the best test since Red Bull Racing came into existence. Everything worked right from the start. But we know that Mercedes is the favourite, and I assume that they drove with much more fuel than we did. The fact that they didn't really align with others in terms of fuel load, that already shows that they must have a lot of confidence. So we assume they still have a lot up their sleeves.”
He added: "Mercedes is the favourite and we are the first challenger. That's how I see the situation. Behind them, it's going to be a battle. I think McLaren will stand out a bit, but not at the level of Mercedes and us. The midfield is certainly closer together.”
The team worked hard during the off-season in order to improve their last years construction and turn it into the RB16B. They targeted the issues that RB16 seemed to have with the aerodynamics, making this season contender a more predictable car to drive and Marko believes with will help both Verstappen and Perez push the car to it’s limits.
As he said: "Compared to Mercedes, our car definitely seems calmer. Of course, that makes it easier for a driver. It's predictable, and you can work better at the limit. But that was also the goal. We didn't want to make the car slower so that it's easier to control. We wanted a fast car that is predictable. And I think we achieved that well.”
After the pre-season tests there are a lot of questions, and definitely not so many answers to all of them. Thankfully, the F1 2021 season will begin in less than two weeks time and hopefully in some time we will have a much cleared understanding of the situation on the grid.