Max Verstappen says that Red Bull could have extended its strong hold over the sport to something like the levels enjoyed today by Mercedes – if not for the impact of hybrid engines.
Red Bull won four consecutive constructors championships from 2010 to 2013 with Sebastian Vettel. But a change to the engine regulations to introduce hybrids swung things toward Mercedes, who since 2014 have won a record seven back-to-back championships
“If at the end of 2013 – if the regulations wouldn’t have changed – I think Red Bull could have done the same,” Verstappen told Motorsport.com this week. “You know, if the V6 wasn’t introduced.
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“It’s just, I think in a way, it came perfect for them,” he suggested of Mercedes’ rise to unprecedented levels of dominance in the sport in part as a result of the new engine technology.
“Of course you know the V6 era, they prepared very early on, and they were well equipped with a good power unit from the start.
“They made their car very fast,” he added. “And with a good top speed everything of course looks already a lot better. But for sure they also had an amazing car, you can’t get around that.”
However Verstappen is convinced that Red Bull is now closing the gap to the German constructors and could be a real contender for the title in 2021.
He finished last season with an emphatic win over Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton at Abu Dhabi and was third in the drivers standings.
Red Bull’s campaign was hampered by the lack of a strong team mate alongside Verstappen. This season he will be joined by Sergio Perez which should make the team once more a full two-car force to be reckoned with.
Team boss Christian Horner insisted that they had also made progress with the car in tackling some of its issues despite a development freeze ahead of 2022’s major rules overhaul.
“I think we’ve improved the car significantly,” he stated, “We’ve understood what those issues are and I think that, hopefully, that can be further addressed as we go into next year.
“We need a car that performs at a whole variety of circuits, which Mercedes have been very good at producing,” he added. “That’s where we need to be strong next year. We’ve got to be strong on all types of circuit.”
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