The name of Max Verstappen’s blistering new bull tells you everything about season 2021 in Formula One.
The car is called the RB16B, not the RB17.
It is rock-solid proof that Red Bull Racing is relying on a development of last year’s race winning car to get the job done against Mercedes in the coming campaign.
The decision to go with a B-spec development car for 2021 is typical of the grid, as the majority of teams are marking time through Covid and ahead of major rule changes ahead in 2022 instead of going all-out with a giant spend on something completely new.
The only significant exception is McLaren, which needs a new chassis as it switches to Mercedes power after challenging times with Renault.
Red Bull Racing also faces a big challenge in the coming campaign and, apart from the RB16B tag for the car, the significant event of its 2020 roll-out is the installation of Sergio Perez for the opening laps.
“I can say I think there is a lot of potential,” the Mexican said after he drove at a chilly Silverstone in Britain.
“The conditions were not great but it was nice to get a feeling for the car. It’s pretty exciting. Earlier this week I drove the RB15, but today I could feel a step in overall grip and top speed.”
Mighty Max went back-to-back at Silverstone, driving the earlier RB15 before sliding straight into the 16B.
He was non-committal after his track time.
“I started with the RB15 to just get a few laps in after the winter break and then I jumped into the RB16B. Days like today are all about getting comfortable with the car and with the new power unit, trying to make things run smoothly and trying to be well prepared before we go testing in Bahrain. It’s always good to be back driving a Formula One car and the first time you go out of the pits is such a great feeling,” Verstappen said.
Red Bull also threw a tasty bone to Alex Albon, who was dumped in favour of race-winner Perez last year but has been retained as the team’s test driver, giving him track time. But it was only in the RB15.
“Any day you get to drive a Formula One car is a good day and it was mega to get behind the wheel of the RB15 again to keep my eye in,” Albon said.
“On my side, today was about understanding the personality of the RB16B, talking to Max, Checo, the engineers and getting their feedback so I can take it back to the factory where I’ll be doing a lot of work to help with development, especially now so that we can hit the ground running in Bahrain.”