Verstappen: RB16 feeling ‘much better’ than last week

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen PA

Max Verstappen PA

Max Verstappen thinks Red Bull have taken the “right” steps with their development, saying the RB16 is feeling “much better”.

Verstappen went into the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix with hopes of scoring a third consecutive win at the Red Bull Ring, but the team’s home race ended in disaster with both Verstappen and team-mate Alex Albon retiring due to different electrical issues.

The Dutchman believes though that the second weekend at the circuit has got underway in a positive fashion, saying the RB16 now feels “much better”.

He finished FP1 in P2, less than a tenth behind Racing Point’s Sergio Perez before topping the second practice session 0.0423s ahead of Valtteri Bottas after setting a 1:03.660.

“We had much better feelings than last Friday. We learned more about the car,” he said after Friday practice.

“We weren’t so happy last week, that’s why we tried to fix some things.

“So far, it’s much better. The direction we took seems to be the right one”.

Bottas won the first race of the season in Austria on a weekend where Mercedes were dominant, but so far that performance advantage hasn’t been present in Round Two.

So Verstappen is now hoping that Red Bull have the right package to win the race, though he isn’t fully convinced yet.

“I don’t know if we have the right package to win the race, we’ll find out on Sunday,” he said.

“We’ll see tomorrow, but for sure the day has been very positive compared to last week.”

Topping FP2 may yet prove very important for Verstappen since it could end up forming the grid for Sunday’s race.

Dry and warm conditions greeted the teams and drivers on Friday but Saturday looks set to be a very different story.

A level 1 thunderstorm is heading towards the Styrian hills and that could lead to final practice and qualifying being completely washed out on Saturday.

Sky Sports F1 reporter Rachel Brookes said claimed that “with torrential rain forecast for tomorrow here in Austria, F1 has revealed that the grid could be set by FP2 times.”

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl also said that qualifying could be moved to Sunday morning, like what happened in Japan last year due to Typhoon Hagibis.

And Verstappen is leaning towards Seidl’s suggestion.

“For now, I am the provisional pole,” he confirmed.

“We’ll see tomorrow if we can do the qualifying. But I think if we can’t do it, we’ll do it on Sunday morning.”

Meanwhile, Verstappen’s team-mate Alex Albon says he is trying to put the memories of a second podium-costing crash with Lewis Hamilton last weekend out of his mind, and instead focus on the Styrian GP with the RB16 looking strong.

“I feel ok. In some ways I tried to switch off my thoughts after Sunday’s race and take the positives from the weekend,” he said.

“The car is in a good window, we’ve still got a bit of work to do but we’re there and we can fight – that’s the main thing.”

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