Max on his chances for 2020: 'When we get in the fight, we can win'

Published on 04 February 2020 by Julien Lemmen

The long Formula 1 winter break is almost over. The new Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB16 will be presented on Februari the 12th, and the first day of winter testing kicks off on Februari the 19th in Barcelona. Max Verstappen and Christian Horner got together in London last night for a chat about the work of the winter, early expectations for the campaign to come and why, for once in F1, a lack of movement is a good thing.

Of course, at the top of the agenda for the first interview of the year was the inevitable question as to whether Red Bull can challenge for a title this year and Horner was quick to answer in the affirmative, pointing to stability throughout Red Bull and in F1 itself this season as a boost to the team’s chances. 

“For the first time in probably five or six years we’ve got stability in the regulations and that gives us a real opportunity to take the fight to our rivals,” Horner insisted. “The lessons we learned last year have been carried over from RB15 to RB16. We also have stability in the team and that, alongside the momentum we built over the second half of last year, means we’re in a very good place to mount a strong challenge this year.”

Central to that stability is the retention of eight-time Grand Prix winner and last year’s closest challenger to Mercedes, Max Verstappen. The superstar Dutch driver inked a new contract that will see him race for Red Bull until the end of 2023 and he admitted that getting the deal done was crucial to his plans for this season. 

“It takes away any doubts. There are no question marks,” Verstappen said. “For me, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing is the right place to be. I feel really good in the team. There are a lot of good people here and I also see the motivation and hunger to fight for victories and possibly a championship."

The final piece of the puzzle for a competitive start to the campaign lies in Red Bull's successful collaboration with power unit partner Honda. And after a first year with the Japanese manufacturer that yielded three wins and two pole positions, Horner is convinced this year can be even more successful. 

“A big factor to enable us to mount a challenge is the power unit and in Honda we have an intensely motivated and competitive partner,” Horner said. “Honda did a great job in 2019 and each iteration of the power year brought more performance and more power. It feels like we’re getting closer to our main rivals.”

And for Max that means hitting the ground running in testing in, starting on February 19, and at the first race in Melbourne, Australia on March 15.  

“Everything is very car dependent in Formula 1, but when you can put pressure on the guy in front it’s a lot harder for him,” Max said. “I’m looking forward to it,” he concluded. “When everything is put together, in pressure situations – such as in Brazil or Germany – then the team really excels compared to the others. So I’m looking forward to when we get that fight and we are really close. If we get that then I’m pretty sure we can win.”