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Red Bull Racing

'Red Bull wary of challenge presented by Mickey Mouse Monaco'

An exciting Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix is immediately followed by Monaco, as Red Bull simulator driver Rudy van Buren takes you inside the work of a sim driver, and Red Bull's chances in Monte Carlo.

Verstappen Imola
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

It was a difficult weekend for Red Bull Racing in Imola, but in the end Max Verstappen 'just' took victory in Italy. Now soon follows the Monaco Grand Prix, a race where qualifying is very important. If you don't start from the front on the narrow street circuit, you can forget about a nice classification.

Red Bull struggled on Friday at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, but managed to turn its performance around as Max Verstappen just about clung on from a charging Lando Norris to win at Imola. 

F1 is back-to-back race weekends, with Monaco this weekend, with motorsport advisor Helmut Marko already claiming that the team will be on the backfoot - having somewhat struggled on street tracks. 

"This will be the most difficult race so far for us beforehand, because of the bumps and kerbstones," he said.

A key member of the Red Bull team is simulator driver Rudy van Buren, who sat down for an exclusive RacingNews365 interview about the challenges the team could face in Monaco.

"I think that builds on what you saw last year, that the street circuits were maybe the most difficult," he says of Marko's comments.

"For now we have no guarantee that that has been tackled. We had Miami, of course, but that's not a real street circuit, and Imola was bumpy and there were kerbstones, but there were also very fast sections. 

"This is the first real Mickey Mouse street circuit of the year. I think everyone is wary."

'Less big'

This coming weekend he will be in the sim for Red Bull, but it's not like Van Buren is just gathering data now, its something that has been the works for a while.

"I was there just last week and obviously we did some driving then," he says. 

"Formula 1 is behind the scenes ahead of what we see in real life, so Monaco has long since come along in the sim. 

"We've already driven there and we'll start there again next Thursday, that's just how it works.

Red Bull's RB19 did not fare very well on street circuits last year, so how is van Buren helping the team to prepare for the first true street track of the year?

 "Problems at Monaco? Last year we had pole and a win, so how big are the problems?," he teases.

"In Singapore, it was a very difficult weekend. As with any team, lessons are learned from weekends like that. There are many roads that lead to Rome and there are causes that caused it, but solutions will be found for that.

"But there are ideas as to why that was more difficult at different circuits last year, and those changes are being implemented.

"We're going to see this weekend if it worked."

In the simulator

But what exactly is his van Buren's role as a simulator driver?

 "In my position, I don't determine what the set-up changes are. I drive and indicate how the car feels," he explains.

"What is good, what is not good? What do you need to go harder? How does the car go over kerbs, how is the traction and how is the rotation in low-speed corners? 

"Then, of course, you go into a lot of details. I answer that.

"Of course, there are very good engineers on all sides coming up with different set-up options about what can work on a track."

Then he comes up with an example. "I can look at Imola. We started the weekend with a philosophy the team thought: 'this has to be it.' 

"But that turned out not to be the case at all. Then we drove deep into the night in the sim and found something completely different.

"And on Saturday it suddenly went a whole lot better, and that's what I mean by the fact that there are a lot of set-ups that you can work out.

"That's where my role comes in. I drive around and I give feedback on what I feel of what needs to be better. 

"Then things are adjusted, then I go back to driving and of course that's a game that goes on all day in a sim.

"You then finally arrive at the set-up where you say: this is workable, this is the basis. There are so many steps in between and often the cars are so laborious in terms of set-up. 

"Nowadays there are so many details on the cars that can be tuned, that also affect each other. It's just a whole roadmap to get to a final product."

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