Verstappen expects Red Bull to be back ‘in a decent place’

Max Verstappen believes Red Bull will resume its challenge against Mercedes at Mugello this weekend after the team’s botched performance at Monza.

The Temple of Speed’s low-downforce environment was not friendly turf for Verstappen and Alex Albon’s RB16, but the car should fare better around the Mugello Circuit’s blend of medium and high-speed corners.

“I definitely think it can’t be any worse than Monza!” said Verstappen ahead of this weekend’s Tuscany GP. “It will be better, and I think we should be back in a decent place behind Mercedes.

“It’s a new track of course, so we first have to see how the car is set up. For sure we’ll have to make a few changes to that. But overall, I’m quite confident that we can have a positive weekend.”

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Verstappen was sidelined at Monza after 30 laps engulfed in the midfield by an engine issue. While the problem was terminal, it was just one of many troubles endured by the Dutchman in last Sunday’s race.

“What didn’t go wrong?,” he said. “We just didn’t have the speed, first of all. We knew qualifying of course was going to be tricky, and I was fifth.

“But then of course we had a bad start due to overheating, and then in the first lap, it was quite feisty, but I just didn’t want to risk anything. So never pushing. We were P7 or P8.

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“Then we were just stuck in the DRS train. There was not so much you can do, I was just trying to follow.

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“Also, I had Valtteri [Bottas] in front of me, which is the fastest car of course. It was really difficult to stay close. Then of course there was the safety car, which didn’t allow us to pit, because of the car [Kevin Magnussen] that was standing there.

“Then one car at the front, with the red flag they were allowed to change their tyres, so everything basically went wrong up until that point. At the second start my engine overheated, which meant I had to retire.”

Verstappen has never raced or tested at Mugello, which compelled the Red Bull charger to visit the circuit before this weekend’s round to get acquainted with the majestic track behind the wheel of a GT car.

“I came here a few weeks ago to drive because I have not been here before,” he said. “I think that is the best way to learn a track. I mean you can drive it on the simulator, but I haven’t done that.

“Of course, the car is a bit slower, but it’s still fun. It’s important, it gives you a little bit of a head start. I know of course that other drivers have been racing here.”

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