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Styrian GP: Preview - Red Bull

NEWS STORY
08/07/2020

How are you feeling after last weekend?
Max Verstappen: I feel good but of course the result was not what we wanted, which was to score a good amount of points and fight for the win. I was looking good for a podium which I thought was easily possible because it was basically between Mercedes and myself on raw pace. But then you also look at how the whole race panned out, we could have scored a good amount of points against Lewis but it is what it is, we can't change it and now I'm looking forward to hopefully having a more positive weekend. We were a bit down on pace compared to Mercedes in qualifying so we definitely need to close that gap to fight them in that area rather than on strategy. Our pace is usually a bit better in the race than in quali but there is still quite a bit of work to do which the engineers are flat out on. We have ideas and the direction to work on for this weekend so that's positive.

What are you doing to keep busy between races?
MV: The environment is really beautiful here so that's nice and I've been on a few runs with my trainer in the local area. I relaxed a little on Monday and then met up with the engineers and we talked through some ideas for the weekend. We also had a Team BBQ last night which was a good way to have some fun in our Team bubble as we cannot go anywhere outside of that. The days go by quite quickly.

What's different heading into this weekend compared with last weekend?
MV: I'm looking forward to racing on the same track again this weekend and it's a good opportunity to get a better understanding of the car. Whatever we found wasn't perfect last weekend we can improve this week. On the same track I always think it's quite nice to do a direct comparison, depending on the weather, and hopefully we can do better this time. It looks like it could rain this week and I'm not sure anybody knows how competitive they are in the wet with these new cars so that could be interesting. I always enjoy driving in the wet, I don't mind it, but to be quick you need both the car and driver to be 100%.

How are you feeling after last weekend?
Alex Albon: I feel ok. In some ways I tried to switch off my thoughts after Sunday's race and take the positives from the weekend. The car is in a good window, we've still got a bit of work to do but we're there and we can fight - that's the main thing. The biggest shame is we didn't capitalise on the race and we didn't get the points we deserved, but I'm going into the weekend confident. I feel like there are areas to improve on in myself and as a Team, but I'm feeling good and ticking down the days to Friday. There will be a slightly different atmosphere this weekend because we know the track and the car, nothing has really changed from the last race, so it will just be about fine tuning things and working on the areas in the car Max and I have been talking about.

What are you doing to keep busy between races?
AA: I went hiking on Monday which was good fun as you don't really get chance to hike the mountains in the UK and then we went to the lake. Yesterday, I went on a bike ride, and then we had a BBQ with the Team which was good fun. I might play some golf today so it's been a very chilled out week, but I'm making the most of the Austrian countryside.

What's different heading into this weekend compared with last weekend?
AA: I think there's less anticipation heading into this weekend now we're in a rhythm. We know where the car is at, driving and set-up wise, we know what's needed, so there are less unknowns and now it's just time to do the business. Get into the weekend, fine tune things and close the gap to Mercedes.

Christian Horner: The Red Bull Ring in Austria delivered a thrilling start to the season but unfortunately, it was a double heartbreak for Max and Alex. On another day, the Team could have been making it a hat-trick of wins in Spielberg.

I saw Alex at dinner on Sunday night after the race and you could see the result hurt, but when I caught up with him again on Monday, he already had his tail up and is looking forward to this weekend.

Alex was cruelly robbed of a podium and possibly even a victory. It was a slam dunk. We had a tyre that was probably 1.2 seconds a lap quicker than Mercedes were capable of going at that stage in the race. Alex knew they would have problems warming their older tyres, so he needed to get the job done on Lewis quickly.

He made his move, went around the outside and got himself ahead of Lewis mid-corner and then contact was made and Alex was in the gravel. He later retired from the race but the incident was particularly frustrating at our home event when we had a good chance of making it three wins in a row.

Lewis was penalised and, I am sure if the shoe was on the other foot, then there would be plenty of media criticism, as Max has experienced in the past, but as a six-time world champion I guess these mis-judgements are sometimes overlooked...

Whenever you have a bad race, the day after is horrible but at 8am on Monday morning, a large part of the engineering department were already up doing a virtual online fitness class and getting stuck in.

The whole Team is fully motivated to get back up there on the podium. That's not just the people here at the track, but also those who are working flat out at the factory helping the development of this year's car.

We have the basis of a good car this year. It is clear that Mercedes have made a good step over the winter but Austria is quite a unique circuit, so you cannot judge a season by one event.

The encouraging thing is that we were in position to challenge for a victory with both cars during the race. Operationally, we set the fastest pit stop and we were strategically sharp and, although we have zero points to show for it, we have positives to take out of the performance.

We will rectify the issues we had. The parts we were concerned with during the race have gone back to the factories in Milton Keynes and Japan and we have a chunk of data to go through to establish why we were not as quick in qualifying as we would have liked.

The good thing about having three races in a row is that you do not have to wait long to try and set the result right.

It was interesting to hear Toto's comments after the race about the gloves being off. Rivalry between the drivers and between the teams is what competition is all about, so long as it is respectful and in many ways the gloves are always off.

We got our strategy right and they had a very quick car which won in the end... I think they made the wrong strategic call at the final safety car and they got away with it.

Mercedes do have a very fast car but if we can develop ours to take the fight to them, then we all make errors and you could see that, so hopefully next time we will come out on top.

As for the protests. The first over their DAS system was already geared up back in Melbourne. The only mechanism for us to gain clarity is to put a protest in with the FIA during a race weekend.

If we wanted to be difficult we could have done it after qualifying or after the race. I had spoken to Toto about it in advance because there was no malice in it, it was just wanting clarity on the ambiguity over those regulations.

We felt it was a set-up tool to heat up tyres, as it was in the race, but the purpose of the protest was to achieve that clarity and now we have that. It is clear the system is legal for this season and we will consider developing our own, if we feel the gains are worth it with the rest of our package.

As for Lewis' grid penalty before the race, the timing was completely coincidental and in no way intentional that close to the race. The 360 video footage was put out by Formula One and this was a new angle that we had not seen on Saturday. We highlighted this to the FIA who had also not seen the angle and then reviewed the footage. It was then clear to the FIA that there had been a breach of the rules and they rightly applied the same penalty that Max was given in Mexico last year. It was not sour grapes at all, it was just the timing of when the new evidence came to light and how quickly we could get that to the FIA for review.

While it was hugely disappointing not to pick up some points, it is great that the Formula One season is up and running.

All hats off to Red Bull for putting on a great and safe event. They hosted everybody well, laid on great facilities and put on one hell of a show in the build up to the race. The way Red Bull go about things is they do the job properly and it was a great feeling to get the season going.

Of course, it was very alien being in the paddock with a face mask and not interacting with people like normal but once the cars started running, the race was just like any other. We would definitely have missed the cheers from the crowd if we had been on the podium though. It is great to see Formula One being a pacesetter for international sport and now we have a blueprint for safe and successful weekends moving forward.

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