How well do you understand the RB16B after pre-season testing?
MAX VERSTAPPEN: “I didn’t mind having only 1.5 days in the car and for me the important thing was the mileage and seeing that the set-up changes we made over the test were working. You can’t talk about proper limitations yet as we have only driven in hot conditions and every track needs different things, but I have a good feel for the car. From my side the car was stable enough to feel comfortable, there are always things to do better but we are always making improvements and that is what the engineers will do.”
Do you have any final words before we head to Bahrain for the first race of the season?
VERSTAPPEN: “Now I have to deliver and the Team have to deliver so we can try and mount a title fight. We all know our roles and it’s good to see Honda and ExxonMobil have been pushing hard over the winter to make sure we have the best possible package in the RB16B for the season. I like the Bahrain track and it will be exciting to see our performance. It’s time to see who has got what.”
After a solid test, what can you say about your hopes for the season?
VERSTAPPEN: “For sure the test was a positive start for us and you can always be happy when you get that number of laps in and get a good understanding of the car but it doesn’t say anything about pure performance. I know people are excited and think we are just saying this, but Mercedes are still the favourites – how can they not be when they have won seven world championships in a row. I’m sure Mercedes also want people to think we are the favourites and put the pressure on us but we are just focussed on ourselves. You can be sure that everyone in this Team and at Honda is pushing to beat them and anyone else who may be quick this year. I see every season as a new opportunity to beat them, but we would be stupid to expect that fight to be easy and look at testing and think we are ahead. I personally can’t wait until we are all pushing in Q3, that is when you will see everyone at full power with low fuel and that is the time to see who developed performance wise and then in the race we will see who can keep that performance over a race distance. Let’s hope we can be good at both!”
Now the sand has settled after pre-season testing, how do you look back on the three days in Bahrain?
SERGIO PEREZ: It was really positive. There was a very limited amount of testing, especially considering the amount of things we have to run through and check, but I think we prepared well as a Team and I look forward to my first race with Red Bull! It’s going to be a process for the first couple of races, just to learn as much as possible and to get up to speed quickly, so we can be in a good position for the season.
What did we learn about ourselves and our competitors?
PEREZ: Overall it’s early days, you know, so we will see. I think the more you try to figure out what other people are doing the more lost you can get, so there isn’t a lot of point in reading into anything. We just have to wait until qualifying and see where everyone is at.
Being at a new team, how different is the feeling heading into the first round of the season? Are you nervous, excited, both?
PEREZ: This is what I’ve been dreaming of. I can’t wait. I’m really, really excited to see some fans at the track, to finally get to race, I’m looking so much forward to it. I’m going to approach things very relaxed and just deliver to my maximum and we’ll see where we end up.