Verstappen adamant Red Bull RB19 better 'everywhere'

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Max Verstappen has offered his rivals another ominous warning about what they should expect this weekend in Bahrain, revealing that Red Bull's RB19 has improved in every area compared to its all-conquering predecessor.

After steam-rolling through 2022 and collecting 17 wins, 15 of which were delivered by Verstappen, Red Bull heads into this weekend's opening round of racing of 2023 as the clear favourite to take top spoils.

Labeled as a 'soft evolution' relative to last year's car, RB19 exited pre-season testing as the class of the field, with Sergio Perez setting last Saturday at Sakhir the fastest time overall of F1's three-day test.

Asked on Thursday in Bahrain if the Milton Keynes-based outfit's new challenger was a step forward compared to last year, Verstappen nodded that it was, in every department!

"That’s the aim," he said. "You always try to improve it. It feels nice, well balanced.

"Every team lost a little bit of performance with the floor [regulation changes] but you always try to gain that back.

"I mean we had three really good days, I think also just in general the progress we made over winter was really good.

"We need to show it this weekend, and not just this weekend but continue to develop. Every track is also a bit different in terms of the behaviour of the car, but the test days were good for us."

Red Bull struggled last season to slim down its overweight RB18. But there are no dietary concerns to report regarding RB19, while the car's weight distribution is also adapted to Verstappen's driving style.

"[The weight] was the issue at the beginning of last year," he said. "

"[We] already improved across last year; this car has a few different things on it but from the start felt much more to what I liked."

As strong and fast as Red Bull's new car will prove to be, speed and reliability amount to little on race day without flawless execution.

"We have to stay on top of things and we cannot afford to make too many mistakes," said Verstappen. "We’re not robots. Everyone makes mistakes but you try to minimise it."

As for Red Bull's rivals, Verstappen admits to being a bit wary of Mercedes, whose power unit he believes has made a step forward.
"I think they found something again," he said. "Of course everybody [classifies upgrades] under 'reliability', but there's just more performance coming out of it, and we're going to see.

"I definitely think they have made a step, maybe even a little more than us in terms of power. But in the end, most of it has to come from the car itself."

"Mercedes has also brought a different rear wing, so that will also be more efficient for them."

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