Max Verstappen suggests Red Bull’s rivals should be concerned

Despite struggles with his tyres, Max Verstappen secured an impressive win in Canada, far ahead of his rivals.

Max Verstappen drew encouragement from Red Bull’s recent victory at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, a track that is not known to favour the strengths of the team’s RB19 car. 

Despite facing tire challenges and tricky race day conditions, Verstappen secured a commanding win, finishing nine-and-a-half seconds ahead of Fernando Alonso.

Having experienced heavy rain on Saturday, Verstappen entered the race unsure of how his car would perform due to the altered track surface. 

However, the team made adjustments to the car setup, and Verstappen was relieved to discover that the changes had a positive impact. 

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He stated: “We changed the car around quite a bit compared to Friday, so I didn’t really know how it would feel. But luckily it went in the right direction.”

Unlike the previous race at Circuit de Catalunya, where Verstappen dominated with a 24-second lead, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve posed different challenges. 

The track features fewer long corners that allow drivers to generate tire heat, making it difficult to extract optimal performance from the medium and hard compound tires. 

Verstappen explained: “It was quite tough to keep the tires in the right window, they were always running quite cold so we had to push actually quite hard on the tire.”

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Starting on the medium tires, Verstappen later switched to the harder compound, which presented additional difficulties in maintaining tire temperatures. 

Despite these challenges, Verstappen acknowledged that Red Bull’s car excels when it comes to tire degradation compared to other teams. 

He noted: “We know that our car normally is very good when there’s high deg compared to other cars. 

“Probably you would have needed a car which is a bit harder on the tire to keep the temperatures in. 

“So it’s probably not been our best race, but still, to win by nine seconds I think shows that we have a great car.”

Although Red Bull’s winning margin of under 10 seconds is their narrowest this season, Verstappen revealed that he didn’t push flat-out throughout the entire race due to the unpredictable behaviour of the tires. 

He increased his pace in the final stint when he switched back to the medium tires, allowing him to build a comfortable gap to his rivals.

Verstappen acknowledged that Fernando Alonso’s proximity to him at the end of the race was partially due to the upgrades brought by the Aston Martin team and the RB19’s relative lack of competitiveness in Montreal. 

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However, he stated that he was not worried about being caught by Alonso, remaining alert and constantly monitoring the situation during the race.

With the challenges of cold tire temperatures and the demanding nature of the street circuit, Verstappen emphasised the need to stay focused and avoid mistakes. 

He highlighted the importance of tire management and the potential consequences of even the slightest error.