Verstappen hopeful of making life more difficult for Mercedes
The Dutchman will be aiming to improve on his third-place finish in last season's standings.
Max Verstappen is remaining "realistic" about winning a maiden World Championship this year. The Red Bull driver is considered as Lewis Hamilton's greatest threat to a record breaking eighth world title - and expects Mercedes to be the team to beat once again.
Instead, he is hopeful of closing the gap to the German team and making life "more difficult" for the reigning Constructors Champions, alongside new teammate Sergio Perez.
“We don’t know yet, to be honest,” said Verstappen describing Red Bull's title chances.
"I am always very realistic and it makes no sense to talk about stuff now. We have to go to Bahrain and look at it there, and at the first race, and see if we succeeded or not. We know where we want to be and where we want to get to, and that’s what we now need to try and realise.”
“I just don’t want to hype things up. I want to stay low key and focus on our job. We should do the talking on the track, not next to the track. That’s what I prefer.”
Verstappen will be joined at Red Bull by last year's Sahkir Grand Prix winner Sergio Perez, who is replacing the departing Alexander Albon; the Thai driver struggled to score enough for Red Bull's liking, being demoted to the role of reserve driver for this season.
The team are hoping that the consistent Perez can continue his impressive form which saw him finish a magnificent fourth in last season's Drivers Championship - despite missing two races due to Covid-19. This will be Verstappen's fourth different teammate as he begins his fifth year with the Milton Keynes-based outfit.
“For me, it honestly doesn’t really change that much,” told Verstappen.
“For the team, on the other hand, I think we always want to score with two cars as high as possible. So let’s see if that’s going better this year.
“That’s the goal, what we all want, to make it a bit more difficult for Mercedes – they must be the favourites still. Let’s see how everything goes.”
Verstappen took two victories last year, winning the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix and the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
Despite both Verstappen and Perez testing the new RB16B around Silverstone earlier this week, Red Bull are giving nothing away before pre-season testing in Bahrain. Yet Verstappen did state what he wants from the new car.
"More grip, more power," said the ten-time race winner.
“People always talked about the rear-end being so twitchy, I think it’s just general grip we were lacking a bit. Also, we were a bit down on power. We know that, there’s no secret behind it, you can see it.
“We worked a lot with Honda throughout the winter. It’s all looking promising but it doesn’t make sense now to hype it all up. First, it’s more important to get to the track in Bahrain and try to do the best amount of learning we can on the car and the engine to optimise everything.”
Verstappen is also hopeful that Perez's experiences with a Mercedes power unit can be beneficial for Honda and Red Bull.
“His information from the years he had done at another team, different power units, stuff like that, he can transfer to the team his findings and the differences. So I hope, of course, it can help the team or at least gives them kind of different ideas about a few things.”