After falling short again on Sunday, Red Bull is looking to find more rhythm so it can take on Mercedes in the Formula One championship fight.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull’s top benchmark, had another promising start to the weekend at the Spanish Grand Prix, but Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton once again celebrated victory on race day.
It was a similar outcome to the previous race, with Red Bull closer than ever to Mercedes, but unable to overtake him definitively.
“This has been the case all year, we are quite competitive in qualifying and we faltered a bit in the race,” said Verstappen. “We need a faster car, it’s that simple, since that way we don’t end up in a situation like that, and that’s what we have to focus on.”
Hamilton’s victory in Barcelona was the third he has obtained in four valid this season. Verstappen’s only triumph came in Italy for the second race of the championship. Hamilton also won in Portugal and in the opening race in Bahrain, where Verstappen started on pole.
In Barcelona, Verstappen managed to jump from second to first place at the start, but couldn’t hold the lead. Hamilton finished at the top of the podium thanks to Mercedes’ two-refueling strategy, which allowed the Briton to lead very close to the end.
“When it comes to pace, Red Bull is better on Saturday and probably turns in our favor on Sunday,” said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. “Our car is doing better in terms of tires.”
Wolff said the two-refueling strategy, which allowed Hamilton to run on cooler tires and make up time in the pits, was perfectly executed by the team.
“They are a fantastic group, with all the simulations of the mathematicians and strategists,” he said. “We trust them and their data.”
Red Bull could have brought Verstappen in for a second stop but the team didn’t think it would make a difference.
“I think if we had done that second part a little earlier, it would not have caught up with Lewis,” Verstappen said. “I was going a little slower.”
Hamilton never missed Verstappen and struck out with six laps to go.
“It was difficult to come back after 20 seconds ago. But it was a gamble that paid off, “said Hamilton.
The victory allowed Hamilton to widen his drivers’ championship lead from eight to 14 points.
Mercedes dominates in the constructors’ championship with a difference of 29 points. Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas finished third on Sunday for his third podium of the season.
Red Bull needs and expects more from Sergio Pérez, Verstappen’s partner. The Mexican finished fifth at the Montmeló circuit and has yet to get on the podium in 2021.
The next race will be in two weeks in Monaco, where Red Bull has done well. He scored a win there with Daniel Ricciardo in 2018. But Verstappen has had no good fortune on the street circuit, with a fourth-place finish in 2019 as his best performance. Pérez was third in the 2016 edition, then with Force India.
“It is important to continue taking those steps and put together the whole weekend, but it takes me too long to catch up,” said Pérez. The elements are coming, but not together. I’m excited for Monaco, especially with this car, as it has historically been competitive and I think we have a chance to win. “
Hamilton has a history of three wins in Monaco, a grand prix that was canceled last year because of the pandemic. AP (HN)