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Verstappen: Red Bull’s been found out now car advantage is gone

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Max Verstappen says the “fundamental” problem that’s thwarted Red Bull’s Monaco Grand Prix weekend is one that has been masked by its car advantage since 2022.

Verstappen said the team has “been found out” with a weakness over bumps and kerbs that is making the car “like a go-kart” to drive.

Red Bull has struggled since the beginning of the Monaco GP weekend, extending a tricky spell for this era’s dominant force. It comes one week after an Imola race where Verstappen almost lost victory to McLaren’s Lando Norris – who beat him in Miami.

But Red Bull is not struggling with a new issue according to Verstappen. Instead, it’s one that dates back to the start of this era of ground effect cars – a problem only masked until now by Red Bull’s dominance.

“It’s like I’m running without suspension,” Verstappen explained. “So it’s just jumping around a lot, not absorbing any kerb strikes or bumps or camber changes.

“In the last corner, the amount of times that I just jumped almost into the wall, it’s pretty incredible.

“It’s also not something new, we’ve had this problem since 2022. For the last two years, I think we had a car advantage.

“So then it gets masked a little bit because we gain in the corners where the curves and the bumps are not that much of a limitation.

“But with everyone catching up, naturally, when you’re not improving your weakest point, you get found out. That’s what happened this weekend.”

He said it was the same as how the Red Bull felt in Monaco in 2022 and 2023 but its car advantage in other areas still allowed it to win, first with team-mate Sergio Perez then Verstappen in 2023.

And Verstappen was “surprised” to be that close to the other frontrunning cars – even after a mistake on his final qualifying lap, he was still less than three tenths from pole – given how the car felt.

“F*** knows,” said Verstappen when asked where he’d have been without the final-lap wall tap that left him sixth on the grid.

“I’m pushing flat out. The car is just super tricky. When it’s Turn 1 suddenly I go over the bumps again and it snaps on you.

“There was nothing that was a big mistake. The car just is literally on a knife-edge to drive.”

When it was put to him that the RB20 was supposed to cure that limitation, Verstappen said “yeah, supposedly but it didn’t happen”.

Red Bull doesn’t understand it

Verstappen labelled it a “fundamental problem” that “can’t be fixed in weeks”. But can it be fixed during this season?

“Well first of all we need to understand what it is and we don’t,” Verstappen said when asked that question by The Race.

“We’ll work hard to try to find the problem and try to get rid of it but I don’t know if we can do that this year or we’ll have to wait for next year.

“If we knew we would have of course fixed it. Clearly we don’t.”

Monaco marks the third successive tricky weekend for Red Bull but Verstappen said each was a result of “different problems”.

“Probably in Miami we didn’t get the balance correct and also maybe the tyres,” he explained.

“In Imola we managed to turn it around quite well but because of all the problems we were probably not on top of the tyres, especially the hard tyre.

“Overall the performance was OK but I knew this was going to be one of our most difficult weekends with everyone catching up as well.

“I’m just aware we are not perfect. We need to work. We need to understand our limitations more and try to work on that.”

Monaco might be the worst manifestation of Red Bull’s problem but Verstappen said he still expects it to be hurt at other circuits.

“Some tracks where there aren’t bumps you still have to ride kerbs,” he said.

“There are definitely some tracks on the calendar which are not ideal for us but there are tracks which will suit our car probably more.

“We know where we have to work on. There is one clear direction where we’re still lacking quite a bit of performance so already if we can fix that our car will be better on every single track.”

And what of the title race? Verstappen holds a 48-point lead over Monaco GP polesitter Charles Leclerc – one that will surely be partly eroded on Sunday.

“I don’t even think about that,” Verstappen replied.

“The title race is so long. Anything can happen. One bad race won’t alter the title.

“I know that to win a title you need to be consistent and that’s what we have to try to be.”

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