The clean design of Red Bull's RB13 raised eyebrows in testing, particularly given the complexity of their rivals' 2017 machines. It also led to speculation that Red Bull might bring a raft of updates to Australia - something Max Verstappen indicated might well be on the cards when we sat down with him for an exclusive chat in Melbourne...
Red Bull will 'look different' in Melbourne - Verstappen Q&A
It will look a little bit different. But not just in a single aspect - everywhere.
__Q: Max, there is a serious demand for more of your kind in Formula One. Can you duplicate yourself? __
Max Verstappen: Unfortunately not. But actually it's rather good because it would be more difficult for me to deliver good results if there where two of me! I would have to work harder to beat my copycat! (laughs)
Q: Where could someone of your kind come from then?
MV: Mars! (laughs) Nowhere else!
Q: You're not the only teenager on the 2017 grid - is it really essential to start young these days?
MV: Not necessarily that young – it all depends on the right preparation. I had that from my dad! If you have somebody who is guiding you from a very young age and gives you all the essential tips, that helps a lot - and then age becomes rather irrelevant.
Q: You're heading into your third season in F1, and you're still not 20. You obviously live life fast! But are you still living the dream, or does it also have downsides?
MV: There are also clouds in paradise! Even if everything looks perfect there are always clouds. That's life. There are up and downsides – and that is also true for Formula One!
Q: What is the upside – and the downside?
MV: You mean the best and the worst? The best clearly is the car! The bad side is that you are travelling so much. You have to learn to live without your friends and family.
Q: You have over-delivered so far in F1, making expectations skyrocket. Do you feel the pressure of such heightened expectations?
MV: No, not at all. On the contrary: I feel more and more relaxed with every year and every race. Sounds weird – or not?
I think we still need to improve to fight for the titles... [but] that can change once we are racing!
Q: Red Bull Racing wants to win titles this season. If you don't mind playing devil's advocate: what could derail that ambition?
MV: That the car is not good enough. If the car is good enough we can win the title, for sure.
Q: Then is it good enough?
MV: Still too early to say. But I think we still need to improve to fight for the titles. At the moment. That can change once we are racing - but clearly the feeling of the moment is that we need to improve!
Q: That brings us straight to the RB13. Is #13 good or bad? Are you superstitious?
MV: Not superstitious at all. So why not have a RB13?
Q: What is your gut feeling after the tests? Was it a downside to do less mileage than your rivals?
MV: No, not for me. Already after one day of driving you know more or less how to drive the car. And it is no miracle. In the end I did four days – and that should be all right. I have absolutely no worries.
Q: The clean design of the RB13 was a much-talked topic at the tests - but it was suggested that this would massively change for Melbourne. Are there changes in store? Will we see a different car on Friday?
MV: It will look a little bit different. A little bit. But not just in a single aspect - everywhere. That's what you do if you want to drive the whole car concept forward. But it is still the best looking car on the grid! And in fact you change to suit the demands: of the track, of the conditions – on wind or no wind. So we do have a 'Melbourne spec' here, if you want to see it that way.
Q: Melbourne is a very peculiar track. At your first try you didn't finish, last year it was P10 – and now?
MV: Better. And unless there is a multi-car crash at the start I don't think that we will see so many retirements on Sunday.
Q: And better means...
MV: Ha. Hopefully better than P10. P10 would be a bit of a shocking performance! For me to be super happy – and not a single cloud in paradise - that would of course be a victory. I just have to follow the car: if the car is able to finish third, I am happy with third; the same goes for fifth.
Q: Let's assume the car is capable of P1 but you botch it – what then?
MV: Then I will be really disappointed with myself. Fingers crossed that I don't have to get mad about myself! (laughs)