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Spanish GP: Preview - Red Bull

NEWS STORY
12/08/2020

Tell us how it feels to get the first win of the season for the team?
Max Verstappen: It was a massive team achievement for us and Honda to win the race last weekend. It was an amazing result and a bit unexpected, but once we got into the race I could quickly see that we had very good pace. It was really rewarding and it just shows that if you keep pushing towards one goal then great results are possible.

How early in the race did you know that you had the pace to keep up with Mercedes?
MV: Well, the first stint was going really well, even when we weren't on the same tyre as Mercedes, but I wasn't sure if they were pushing flat out so I just kept it in my mind that maybe in the last few laps they might suddenly find some pace as they are normally very fast. I would say in the middle of that last stint it looked like they were struggling on tyres and didn't have that extra pace over us and from there I felt pretty comfortable out in the lead.

Have you got any new radio messages lined up for this week?
MV: Let's keep this week's a surprise but I think we should keep it going. I didn't think about the Grandma comment in advance though, that just came out while I was driving and wanting to push!

What are your thoughts on the upcoming race in Barcelona?
Alex Albon: Well it's a different track so let's see how competitive we are against Mercedes and how the temperatures have an impact on everyone. The track at Barcelona is also quite hard on the tyres so I'm not sure how they will hold out in the heat. There will be a lot of unknowns as we usually race there earlier in the year, but I'm really looking forward to it and after the win last weekend I'm excited to get back on track.

You put in a brilliant drive on Sunday and showed yet again how impressive you are at overtaking, battling from ninth to fifth. How do you view the race?
AA: I'm happy, mainly because I think we made a step forward as a team last weekend but also because I'm a bit more comfortable with the car. As a team we had the best pace on the circuit and so that gives everyone, including Max and myself, a boost. It was a really good day for us and yeah I'm happy.

You've shown how strong you are on Sundays and it's now just about getting more comfortable with the car over one lap. Do you feel like we're getting closer to achieving that?
AA: We're getting there. I think two weeks in a row at Silverstone obviously helped us directly compare everything from one week to the next and the car did feel much better at the second race weekend so that's very positive. Of course we still need to do our work and that doesn't all happen overnight but we'll keep pushing and try to extract more from our package to get me more comfortable with the car.

Will the team look at how the RB16 behaves at the Barcelona circuit this weekend compared with pre-season testing, or are you focused on the here and now?
AA: I think the main thing about going back to Barcelona is that we more or less know what to expect from the car. The car has obviously developed and so it's different from the one at pre-season testing but it will still keep the same traits. We've ironed it out a lot more and the car is much better than it was back in February. So this weekend won't be about comparing our package to pre-season, it will be about improving it over last weekend at Silverstone so we continue to push forwards.

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is said to be a "misnomer" in terms of reflecting a car's competitiveness. Do you think there could be some surprises this weekend?
AA: Yes it is but I don't think we're going to see any real surprises. From the races we've done this season we more or less know where everyone stands. As a team we know where we are strong and where we can improve. On paper, Barcelona was pretty good to us in pre-season testing but it was very early days back then and all the other teams have improved.

Triple headers are highly demanding so how will you spend your time between Silverstone and Barcelona?
AA: Triple headers are definitely demanding so Monday was just about chilling out at home. I have played some golf and I'll do some training and then it will already be time to fly to Barcelona on Wednesday.

Christian Horner: Last Sunday was a real boost for the team to beat Mercedes on track and on merit. It was also done in a fitting way, as Formula One celebrated its 70th anniversary with a sensational drive from one of the stars of the future.

Iwould be lying if I said it was also slightly surreal once the podium celebrations had finished. We all got together for the team photos, covered the drivers in Red Bull and toasted our success, but there was no party afterwards and it was also a shame not to feel the buzz of the fans celebrating with us.

Everyone packed up and went home and that evening I was back with the children and managed to read them a story before they went off to sleep.

So it was pretty strange to think that just a few hours earlier we were winning the 70th Anniversary race and later on that evening I was reading a story about a goat!

There will be time for more celebrations I'm sure but current times have certainly changed the way things are done at the moment.

This victory moves Max into second place in the Drivers' Championship, despite a DNF in the first race of the season in Austria. If you remember, he was running second and had he won those 18 points the championship would be looking even closer.

But that said, you can't look at the ifs and buts, even if the points would be pretty valuable right now. We have what we've got and we are still in the fight.

Perhaps the most stand out element behind his victory actually happened the day before in qualifying.

Our trackside strategist for the weekend, Will, suggested that we try and qualify Max on the hard tyre. Max was able to put in a competitive lap and we had confidence in the predicted cut-off time that it would just be enough that he wouldn't need to run again in Q2.

It was incredibly close. He was only a few tenths clear of the cut-off and that hard tyre is quite a time penalty over a single lap, finishing ninth in Q2. That was a key moment and the rest of it was Max managing the tyre in the race and he did a phenomenal job.

At the end he was having some banter with his race engineer about hydrating and sanitizing his hands, but that just showed how in control he was at the time.

We have never been shy of taking calculated risks on different strategies and that has been one of our biggest strengths over the years.

We have been prepared to take on the risks and that has meant the drivers have to do their jobs. Max absolutely delivered and the pace we had in the race with both cars was phenomenal.

The whole factory has been working incredibly hard during these opening triple-headers and a result like Sunday makes you realise what all that hard work is for and it is the best repayment for all the long hours that are going in at the moment.

It definitely gives you energy when you get a result like that and with this gruelling schedule that is important.

I walked into the factory on Monday morning and there were smiles all round. Mercedes have been so dominant in the opening races but we beat them fair and square on the track, which is a great feeling and now we just have to carry that momentum forward.

I believe a championship has more value if you have had to fight for it. The championships that we won in 2010 and 2012 that went down to the final race, they were far more rewarding than the ones we ran away with in 2011 and 2013.

There was a real sense of elation because it had been a battle right through to the last moment and we are fighting once more. I think even Lewis said that he wants to be racing for victories, rather than dominating and we are certainly trying to not make life easy for him.

Alex wasn't happy with his Q3 performance on Saturday, he was a few tenths short of where he would have liked to have been on the soft tyre, but his performance again on Sunday was fantastic.

He really delivered everything we could have asked for in that respect and, in another couple of laps he would have been on Charles Leclerc's tail. What really impressed me was his race craft. It was clean but firm and extremely brave with some great overtakes around the outside of Copse being the real stand-out.

It is all about confidence and everyone has to remember that Alex has not got a lot of F1 experience compared to his teammate. People say F1 is not a finishing school, but in many ways it is as these drivers are constantly learning and evolving.

Max would tell you the exact same thing, it takes time to perfect everything when you are competing against the best at the top of any sport.

It is a steep learning curve, particularly when the car is a little moody on occasions but we are all working to get the best out of the car and both drivers.

The races are coming thick and fast and last Sunday's result gives us hope. When we were staring down the barrel of a one-second gap in qualifying to Mercedes, it was pretty demoralising.

But I think we have had a better race car than in qualifying and Max has made great use of it.

We tested in Barcelona back in February, which seems such a long time ago now. That data will be a certain reference but given the warmer conditions we expect at the weekend and the changes to the cars, it will all be significantly different.

The interesting aspect will be how hot it is going to be. Mercedes had a dominant car up until last Sunday, so it is now up to us to understand how we were able to unleash the RB16's full potential last weekend and ensure we remain in the fight. It also shows that Mercedes can be vulnerable if you put the pressure on and we need to do that on a consistent basis.

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