Max Verstappen is hoping the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix is a much better one for both himself and for Red Bull Racing than it was in 2020 as he looks to take back the lead in the Drivers’ Championship this weekend.
The Dutchman qualified on the front row alongside surprise polesitter Lance Stroll, but a couple of mistakes in difficult conditions saw him finish sixth, more than forty-four seconds behind race winner Lewis Hamilton.
The Intercity Istanbul Park track was very low grip in 2020, which made it extremely difficult for all the drivers, but Verstappen is expecting there to be more grip this weekend.
“Last year’s Turkish GP was of course not the best weekend for us as a Team, but I think it will be quite different circumstances this year, hopefully the tarmac will be a bit more grippy,” said Verstappen.
“I think it will be quite a new weekend in general for everyone, there will be a lot to learn so I’m looking forward to seeing how competitive we are there.”
This weekend should have seen Formula 1 attack the Suzuka International Racing Course for the Japanese Grand Prix, but COVID-19 restrictions meant the race dropped off the schedule for a second consecutive season, something that disappoints Verstappen.
However, in honour of engine suppliers Honda, Red Bull will be running a special livery in Turkey this weekend in what would have been their final Japanese Grand Prix as an official engine supplier in Formula 1.
“I really enjoy the Japanese Grand Prix so it’s a shame that we will miss it,” he said. “I will miss the fans the most, it’s always a lot of fun seeing the fans in Japan as they are so passionate about Formula 1. I also hope they like the new livery that we have on the car this weekend.
“It always feels special to race for Honda, even without the special livery. For us as a Team and for Honda to miss out on the Japanese GP is a shame, but it’s cool that we can do something in Turkey instead to celebrate. I’m excited to see the it and it’s really special to have the car look different for a race so I’m looking forward to that.
“My happiest memories with Honda are of course the wins, especially my first win with them, that was very emotional. Working together with Honda has been such a pleasure and they are super motivated every single race and they are super passionate in terms of delivering the best they can all the time. So it has been really enjoyable working with them.”
“We must put it together to get the car where it deserves on the grid” – Sergio Pérez
Team-mate Sergio Pérez enjoyed his Turkish Grand Prix in 2020, starting third on the grid and then finishing second, and after a strong performance last time out in Russia, he is hoping for another good result in Turkey in 2021.
Pérez was on course for a podium finish at the Sochi Autodrom two weeks ago only to be caught out by the late-race rain that left him all the way down in ninth. However, he has begun to feel more confident behind the wheel of the RB16B, and he is aiming for a podium this weekend in Turkey.
“I am very confident in this car, I think lately we have been showing good signs of pace, but I am conscious we must put it together to get the car where it deserves on the grid and then back into scoring those big points, to get us where we want to be in the Championship, come the end of the season,” said Pérez.
“We did a lot of work after Russia to analyse what went wrong and what went right and where we can look to improve. I have spent some more time on the sim ahead of Turkey too, so we have done some pretty intense homework for this weekend.
“I am looking forward to the last seven races now and I am sure our luck will turn, we are performing well on track but now we must show that with our results on a Sunday, I want to be back on the podium this weekend.”