While Max Verstappen is pleased with how competitive Red Bull look, he says the team need to work hard to ensure that remains the case.
For the first time in his career, it seems as if Verstappen has a car capable of challenging for titles.
While Mercedes won the first race of the season and took pole position at the second courtesy of Lewis Hamilton, Red Bull seem to have a marginally quicker car and Verstappen has one win and one pole position to his name.
With development on 2021 cars being limited and many turning their attention to 2022 already, it is widely believed the Dutchman’s team will remain quickest for the rest of the year.
However, he has made it clear they cannot afford to take their foot off the gas.
“It’s great to be fighting against Lewis, Mercedes, who, I think as a team, have been so dominant and they’re very difficult to beat,” he said after the race at Imola.
“So to be able to sit here now, now two races in a row we were very, very competitive, that’s very promising, but no guarantees.
“It’s a very long season. We just have to keep on working very hard. I’m very happy with the result, of course, but that’s today. I’m of course going to be happy about today, but tomorrow we start again.
“We have to keep improving because there’s still a lot of work to be able to keep doing this the whole season.”
The last time Lewis Hamilton fought Red Bulls for a title…
Yeah, it's been a while. pic.twitter.com/4PKABuwRk1
— Planet F1 (@Planet_F1) April 21, 2021
In the hybrid era, the only time Hamilton has faced a title challenge from outside of his own team came in 2017 and 2018 when Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari put up a fight.
He has not gone head-to-head with a Red Bull for a World Championship since he was at McLaren in 2010 and locked horns with Vettel and Mark Webber, with the German prevailing.
He says he is excited to finally be taking on the team again.
“Yeah, excited for the battle,” said Hamilton.
“I think this is really the first time in a long time Red Bull have had a championship-winning car, so I think it will be close all the way through the year.
“And it’s just going to be, hopefully, more and more of these battles.”