In the last race, it was clear that Red Bull Racing had the best package out of all the teams in the field, but after a three week break between the Bahrain Grand Prix and the up and coming race Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola it will be interesting to see which team out of Red Bull and the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team has made the most of the break and whether whichever constructor has the best package is circuit dependant.
Sergio Pérez felt that the Bahrain Grand Prix was an eventful one, stalling the car on the formation lap before the race even started but thankfully being able get the car going again on the second formation lap which was taken due to Pérez’s issues with the car.
“It really was eventful, I thought the race was over before we even started, but we were lucky to get the car going. It’s always important to maximise the ‘bad days’ and get the most out of them and in the end it was a very positive race recovery with some good points scored for the Team.”
The Mexican feels that it was very important for himself and the team to get some Grand Prix laps in order to get used to a car which is notorious for being quite ‘jumpy.’
“I think it was also very important to drive those kilometres and complete the race distance in order to get up to speed quickly with the car, the Team and all of the processes.”
Pérez believes that the fight between Red Bull and Mercedes is going to be very close and after this weekend everyone will be able to see whether the fight between Mercedes and Red Bull is circuit related. Imola and Bahrain have very different circuit profiles so it will be interesting to see who is on top in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
“I think it’s going to be very tight with Mercedes and we’re going to see if the fight is circuit related. It will be interesting to see how we are in Imola, on a very different track to Bahrain, and see how we compare against them.”
The Mexican driver learned a lot from the weekend and looking at team-mate Max Verstappen’s telemetry data to see how he maximises the performance of the car. Knowing this now, Pérez can take this information into the weekends ahead.
“I learned a lot. I learned more about Max’s driving style and how the car has to be driven to extract the maximum from it. I think that was the biggest learning, I know what balance I need from the car throughout the weekend.”
Ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Pérez is hoping for a good weekend and will be hoping that the car is still the best in the field, possibly even being able to fight for at least a step on the podium. Imola is notoriously difficult to overtake so qualifying will be vital if Pérez is too have a good weekend.
“My goal is to have a good race and I’m looking forward to the weekend. Hopefully in Imola we can come back and be in contention to fight for a podium and hopefully the win. Unlike Bahrain, qualifying is very important at Imola as you can hardly overtake there but I like it.”
“I am motivated to try and win every single race” – Max Verstappen
After qualifying on pole position and finishing the Bahrain Grand Prix in second place, Max Verstappen will be hoping to go one better and finish on the top step of the podium – at a race in which he failed to finish in 2021 after a tyre failure.
Verstappen feels that the Bahrain Grand Prix was a good start to the year, but the good performance in Bahrain does not mean they will be quick at Imola. Saying this, the Dutch driver hopes that they can maintain their good performance but it won’t be easy if they want to maintain their advantage and take a win.
“Of course, the race in Bahrain was a great start to the season, it was a positive weekend in terms of performance but there are no guarantees heading into Imola. We had a positive start to the season so hopefully we can keep that up but it won’t be easy and we need everything to work perfectly to beat our main competition.”
You can never have a perfect race weekend, but this is always easier to say looking back on the weekend, both the team and Verstappen will need to be on top of their game if they are to beat a team that boasts a 7-time world champion and has won the last 7 Formula 1 World Championships.
“Of course there are always things we can do better, but that’s always easy to say after a race weekend. As a Team we always look to improve but that’s a constant thing we are working on, we always want to be thinking ahead.
Even if we had won the race in Bahrain, there are always areas to improve, especially when you are fighting a seven-time world championship winning team, so that’s what we will continue to do in Imola. I’m up for the battle and it’s still a very long season.”
The Dutchman finds it hard to compare the RB16 and the RB16B as the tyres and floor are different. However, the RB16B has handled well in the limited amount of laps that Verstappen has had at the helm of the car. After testing at the same track as the first Grand Prix weekend every time they go to a new circuit it is a new learning experience but that is one of the enjoyable aspects of Formula 1.
“I don’t think you can compare both cars because there are a lot of different factors such as the tyres and the aero changes but the RB16B definitely handles well so far. We’ve also only been to one track so every single weekend you have to try and find a good balance in the car again but everyone enjoys that challenge of Formula One.”
He feels relaxed going into the second race weekend of the year at Imola and is looking forward to returning to the circuit as it makes a permanent return to the calendar. The RB16 was quick at the circuit last year before a tyre blowout ended the duth drivers race prematurely.
“I’m feeling really relaxed going into this race weekend in Imola, I’m looking forward to going back there. Last year we had quite a good race until the tyre issue. Again, it’s too close to the start of the season to know how we will perform, we’ll have to wait and see what happens on track.
Verstappen has a desire to win every single race he enters and is hoping to go one better than his efforts three weekends ago at Bahrain.
“The desire comes from within and I am motivated to try and win every single race. So let’s see if we can go one better.”