Max Verstappen is coming to Portimao as the most recent race winner. From a lightning start, he went on to win the Emilia Romagna grand prix with a 25 seconds margin.
A common admission is that Red Bull have in their RB16B car, the most competitive package on the grid, and a tool to win the championship. Finally.
Mercedes and their lead driver Lewis Hamilton even acknowledged Red Bull’s superiority, as the seven-times world champion reckoned: "The Red Bulls are still ahead of us on performance [...] and there is still a long way ahead of us."
But for Max Verstappen, their situation isn’t as straightforward, as it is all about optimising the car’s performance, especially considering how close Mercedes is.
“We’ll try to do the best we can to get the most out of it. Of course, I do think overall the car is competitive. It’s all about setting it up perfectly to be able to win races.”
He added: ”I just want to do the best job possible every single weekend and, of course, try to make the least mistakes possible.”
“I always feel confident; it’s nothing to do with if you win a race or not. I just hope we are very competitive as the last two races”
“Every single weekend you just have to make sure you are on top of the car and get the most out of it because it is so close between us and Mercedes that you really do have to get the best out of it to make a difference, and that’s what we’ll do this weekend.”
When asked after Bahrain about the pressure of having to fight for the title, the 23 years old dismissed the suggestion as he stated:
“Is there more pressure on me now? No, it is less because I have a faster car. Everything is easier. It is easier to put a good lap together, it is easier when you are at the front. There are no nerves when you start first because that is what I love. I like to be chased. I prefer that much more than hunting.”
The Dutchman however put a little bit of nuance in his stance on Thursday, as he admitted he was actively trying to lessen the pressure by repeating to himself that: "It is still a very long season."
He explained: "Dreaming doesn't bring you anywhere, and I am pretty realistic all the time and I just want to focus on the race ahead.”
"I am not stupid. I know you cannot really make a mistake, especially in a championship that is so close. And I don't want to put any unnecessary pressure on anyone within the team because we know what we have to do.”
"There is no point to keep saying it. I just want to focus on this weekend. I prefer to remain quite silent. I don't need to hype anything up."
When asked about his prospects in F1 Verstappen clarified that he had no intention to change team, as he felt happy with his Austrian stable.“I’ve answered these things quite often. I feel really good in the team and there is no reason to change that anyway. Already before this [engine programme] came out, I’m happy where I am and I hope we can drive together for a very long time and yeah, there’s not much more to say.”