Max Verstappen disputes claims that Red Bull car is built purely to his driving style

Henry Valantine
Max Verstappen in the Red Bull cockpit. Bahrain February 2023.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen sits in the cockpit of the RB19 in the garage. Bahrain February 2023.

Max Verstappen does not feel Red Bull build cars which work around his own driving style, saying that as is the job of a driver, “I always adapt to what I get.”

The two-time World Champion has long been able to make the most out of what have sometimes been tough cars to handle from Red Bull in the past, with the likes of Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon having struggled to get to grips with the unique demands of how their cars handled in their time as Verstappen’s team-mate in 2019 and 2020.

Speaking to media including PlanetF1.com in Bahrain, it was put to Verstappen that Red Bull have worked closely with him over the years to produce setups which closely align to how he likes to drive, meaning he can extract as much as possible from what is underneath him by driving cars which might play to his natural strengths.

But the Dutchman does not believe the cars have been set up specifically around him, instead believing the on-edge, naturally oversteering nature of the Red Bull cars of years gone by have been a feature since his arrival at the team back in 2016.

He took the analogy one step further too, believing he would not be able to define his specific driving style if he was asked to do so.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily just to my driving style,” Verstappen said. “I think as a driver, you need to adapt to what you get, and that’s also what I did when I joined Red Bull because the car was always like that, to be honest.

“I’ve never experienced a fast car which has understeer in my life, in any category, so for me, it’s nothing.

“Weird when I’m getting older, it feels like the team is really pushing around my driving style, [but] I feel like if people ask me ‘what is your driving style?’, I cannot tell you because I always adapt to what I get, in the best way possible.

“Sometimes it’s a bit harder than others, but I think that’s the key, you need to adapt every year, every track is different, and that’s what you try to do best every time.”

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Verstappen spoke assuredly about Red Bull’s prospects after finishing pre-season testing, with a third consecutive Drivers’ title firmly on his mind heading into the new season.

With the RB19 following on from one of the most successful cars in Formula 1 history, he confirmed Red Bull have opted for a policy of evolution rather than revolution, and the reigning champion is confident the changes the team have brought over winter have further improved the car going into 2023.

“I think after last year, I think the philosophy of the car didn’t really change, but just trying to find more performance on it,” Verstappen said.

“But I think all the things that we have on the car are well thought of and tested well on the simulator as well, so there’s nothing really rushed or things on the car that we know that are slower; I think everything that we put on the car is faster.”

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher