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Max Verstappen

Verstappen details Red Bull weakness in McLaren fight

Max Verstappen has explained where he believes Red Bull is trailing McLaren after the Woking team established itself as a close challenger for being the fastest on outright pace.

Verstappen Austria
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen has revealed where he feels McLaren is currently stronger than Red Bull, with the Woking team almost entirely eradicating the performance advantage of the constructors' champions in recent weeks.

Throughout 2023 and into the early part of this season, the Milton Keynes squad enjoyed a seemingly unassailable pace gap to those behind.

Whilst McLaren had ended last year as the second-strongest team, it slipped behind Ferrari in the pecking order over the opening rounds this term. 

However, despite still being behind the Scuderia in the standings, the Papaya outfit again has the second-best car, and arguably the fastest at certain circuits - something Verstappen is acutely aware of, having been run close by Norris in each of his previous three victories.

"I think McLaren at the moment, they're just very solid," the 26-year-old told media including RacingNews365 when asked where he feels McLaren has surpassed the RB20. "They're good everywhere, every single track."

Red Bull struggling on tyre management compared to McLaren

Verstappen triggered a red flag during the sole practice session at the Austrian Grand Prix, but the previous weekend will also have been a particular cause of concern for Red Bull. 

After a run of tracks that exposed its kerb-riding issues - in Imola, Monaco and Montreal - the return to an aerodynamic-critical venue was expected to see the RB20 re-gain some of the ground it had lost to McLaren, Ferrari - and more recently, Mercedes.

The Italian team was off the pace, and German marque clearly had the third-fastest car. However, McLaren pipped Red Bull on one-lap pace, with Lando Norris taking pole by two-thousandths of a second from Verstappen.

Despite the Dutchman being able to claim victory at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Norris chased him hard all the way, finishing just over two seconds behind - which Verstappen felt was largely contingent upon the MCL38's tyre management.

"I think you could see in Barcelona, they were very good on their tyres. They could just push more on them compared to, I think, everyone else on the grid without actually degging [degrading] off that much at the end of stints," he added, before also addressing Red Bull's deficiencies.

"Because even the last stint, my last few laps were quite a struggle, where Lando was definitely catching up a lot. So these are things that we have to do better. 

"Plus our known issues with the kerbs and bumps, low speed, basically. Those are things that we try to understand better also for next year."

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