Max Verstappen has explained that he will tweak his approach if required this year owing to the knowledge that he has a chance of fighting for the Formula 1 title.
Red Bull has enjoyed its strongest start to a Formula 1 season in the hybrid era, with Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton splitting pole position and victory from the opening two events.
Verstappen has previously claimed a season-best of three wins, achieved in 2019, with Red Bull chasing occasional grand prix victories rather than the title in the hybrid era.
Verstappen believes the speed shown by the RB16B so far means Red Bull has to consider the year-long implications of each race weekend.
“You have to understand that if it’s not your day, it’s not your day, you have to settle for a certain result,” he said.
“Whereas in the past, we had sometimes a car where we could win races but we knew we weren’t in a championship fight so you might risk it a bit more.
“Of course, when you’re in a championship fight or at least you know that you can be competitive more often your approach does change a little bit because you cannot afford to lose too many points in a weekend where you’re not at your top level.
“I think that’s what we always have to make sure even if we don’t have a perfect weekend, we still score a lot of points.”
Verstappen nonetheless cautioned that it is still too early in the year to draw any definitive conclusions on the relative strengths of Formula 1’s leading cars.
“It’s difficult to see a pattern at the moment,” he said. “It’s still so early in the season that I think there’s still quite a few things you want to get on top of the car, that you want to do better. We just have to wait and see.
“It really is going to depend on the track layout, whatever happens in qualifying or the race.
“The only thing I can see is that we are very close. Both of us, we need to try and do a perfect job to be able to beat each other.”