Mercedes faster in all types of corner - Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen believes Mercedes is now faster than Red Bull in all types of corners in Formula 1, as he moved to play down Red Bull’s Monaco Grand Prix prospects.
Red Bull has had one of Formula 1’s strongest chassis in recent seasons and has typically performed well in Monaco, due to the reduced reliance on engine prowess.
But Mercedes’ dominance at last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, particularly through the slower final sector of the Barcelona circuit, has raised expectations that the W10 will be the package to beat in the Principality.
“I think at the moment we’re not really better in any corner than Mercedes,” said Verstappen.
“It’s not that it’s [the RB15] a bad car – but at the moment Mercedes is just a bit quicker than us everywhere.
“Medium speed, high speed is pretty similar I would say, but again, that depends on downforce levels you’re running every single weekend so it’s a bit difficult to say.
“But clearly in Spain, they were very strong in the low-speed corners and that it normally pretty good for Monaco as well.”
Verstappen’s Monaco dramas
Mercedes has won all five races in 2019 and its pace in slow- and medium-speed corners suggests it heads to Monaco as the favourite – a rarity in recent years.
If Ferrari’s expected struggles materialise, and Red Bull does manage to find itself in the ballpark in Monaco then it will – given Pierre Gasly’s slow start to life at the senior team – surely be up to Verstappen to lead the charge against the Mercedes drivers.
But his Monaco record is sketchy.
Verstappen starred initially in 2015 with rapid times in practice and a dazzling show in the race, but undid his hard work by ploughing into the rear of Romain Grosjean at high speed on the run to Sainte Devote.
In 2016 Verstappen crashed during qualifying and, having recovered to the points in a rain-affected race, slid wide through Massenet and had his second terminal impact of the weekend.
A year later Verstappen was on course for a possible podium but team-mate Daniel Ricciardo wound up on the quicker strategy and jumped him through the pit stop phase, leaving Verstappen only fifth.
Last season Red Bull comfortably held the quickest package but while Ricciardo dominated the weekend, Verstappen’s challenge was ended when he crashed in the closing stages of third practice. Verstappen was unable to qualify and, while he came home ninth, it could have been much more.
Since that setback he has performed strongly and has not finished outside of the top five since last year's Belgian Grand Prix, during which spell he has taken eight podiums. Can he make amends in 2019?