Max Verstappen’s guarded response to Red Bull’s rumoured all-in zero-pod upgrade

Michelle Foster
A close-up shot of Max Verstappen's eye with the visor of his helmet open during F1 pre-season testing

Max Verstappen is debating 2025

Max Verstappen was coy when asked about Red Bull’s Japanese Grand Prix updates, amidst reports that Suzuka could see the team introduce sidepods that are reminiscent of the infamous zero-pods previously used by Mercedes.

Surprising many in the paddock when the reigning World Champions opted not to continue with their RB19 concept but rather moved towards a more Mercedes-esque design with this year’s RB20, it was claimed back in February that this was just the start of the switchover.

To zero-pod or not to zero-pod, that is the Suzuka question

Adopting the engine cover used but dropped by Mercedes in the first two years of the ground-effect aerodynamic era, F1 fans and pundits were even more surprised as Red Bull’s 2024 challenger, the RB20, sported sidepods that bore a bit of a resemblance to Mercedes’ failed zero-pod concept.

But more surprisingly still, almost immediately after the launch of the RB20, it was claimed that Red Bull are poised to go even further in replicating the zero-pod, heading more towards Mercedes’ dropped concept than the initial RB20’s design.

Japan was touted as the first race for Red Bull’s all-in zero-pod concept.

‘As F1 moves to Japan in early April,’ claimed Autosport, ‘where temperatures will drop and cooling will be less marginal, the RB20 will be upgraded to a design reminiscent of the Mercedes size-zero sidepod.’

But don’t ask Verstappen if you want confirmation or details about the upgrades.

“Well, I mean the colour will be the same,” he said, before adding: “You will see.” recommends

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Having won the first two Grands Prix of the season from pole position, Verstappen was on pole again in Australia only for a brake fire to put him out of the Grand Prix.

The Dutchman, four points to the good in the Drivers’ Championship, is hoping to rebound in Japan at a circuit he loves to race.

“So far good but of course everyone has a bit of different characteristics in their cars as well, you know, so it’s not a given that we will be really, really competitive like last year,” he said.

“But I’m excited, it’s a track that I really enjoy.

“I know that I’m confident with the car, I feel good. Especially I think we shouldn’t have been on pole [in Melbourne] but the laps that we did were really good.

“So I just want to have a good weekend again and feel good with the car.”

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