Verstappen happy again in Saudi Arabia

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Verstappen happy again in Saudi Arabia


Max Verstappen may start as a favorite, but Fernando Alonso will have popular support this weekend when Formula One resumes this year at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

After his dramatic and surprising finish behind the two Red Bulls at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix two weeks ago, the The 41-year-old Spaniard denied high hopes of a repeat performance in his new Aston Martin.

But he knows that the speed of the Jeddah Street Circuit, a hair-thin clip of asphalt that squeezes above the lagoon on the corniche, 12 kilometers north of the city, offers a serious challenge. different between man and machine.

“I think we found, in Bahrain, we are strong in things that we might not have in Jeddah, or Melbourne,” he said.

“Well, if we come back strong, in these two races, I think we will have a very good year.

“I want to know these races – very different circuits, high speed corners and very low damage. It will be very different.”

After his victory in Bahrain, ahead Red Bull the team of Sergio Perez, the world champion Verstappen will be the one to beat with Aston Martin, Ferrari and Mercedes in hot pursuit.

Perez, who finished fourth last year after starting from pole position, will be looking to prove he is more than just a supporting player in the role of the Dutchman on the kind of track that usually suits his style.

“I was unlucky last year, during a safety car,” he said. “This time will be great.”

Ferrari, under new management and new hope, will also want to make a statement in a tournament where they finished second and third last season, but will start at the back. and Charles Leclerc took a 10-place penalty for creating a new electronic unit.

After a disappointing, if not disastrous, showing at the beginning of the season, Mercedes, as well, needs a better performance to lift the spirits.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and George Russell battled for pace in Bahrain and look set to suffer a similar outcome on Sunday.

“We have a few minor developments for the car,” said team boss Toto Wolff. “They’re not game-changers, but they might push us in the right direction.”

If Mercedes fall again – they won eight constructors’ titles before Red Bull took their crown last year – it could lead to a serious rethink and ultimately for their criticized W14 car.

That unexpected prospect will come to the fore especially if the factory team is once again outbid by their Silverstone Aston Martin sales team. .

“I think the car we have now is just a base, a new concept that has been launched for this season,” said Alonso.

“So, I believe there’s more to come in terms of development—and I do.”

Verstappen is aware of the strong threat from rival teams in defense of his title, but believes his Red Bull package has the mix of high-speed driving characteristics and pure power to win again.

“We have a strong car for this track, but I don’t think it will be easy,” said the 25-year-old Dutchman, who praised the many changes made to the circuit after criticism by about the dangers of poor visibility at certain angles. last year.

“The changes have made things better, hopefully,” he added. “It’s definitely dangerous in some areas for drivers.”


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