Max Verstappen admits that, despite a couple of promising races at his new team, he is still having to lean on team-mate Daniel Ricciardo when it comes to setting up Red Bull's RB12.
The Dutchman, having already impressed in a debut season with Toro Rosso, made a scintillating start to life in Milton Keynes by winning the Spanish Grand Prix, before coming back down to earth a little as two crashes – one in qualifying and another to end his race – marred an otherwise promising Monaco weekend. While he insists that his confidence was not knocked in the Principality, however, Verstappen has revealed that he is still getting to grips with Red Bull's 2016 chassis.
“It's just getting used to the car, how to set it up and I think it's mainly from experiences that you don't have,” he explained, “With Toro Rosso, for example, I had the experiences from last year so, when you come back to the same track and know that those things happened, you know a bit more which direction you have to go. But, for me, first of all, you have to set the car up differently because it's a complete different car, so I'm still guessing a bit and following a bit of direction. I think it takes a year to get around it, you just need to build your experience with the new car.”
The teenager was not shy about revealing that the 'bit of direction' he is currently following comes from his more experienced team-mate, with Ricciardo – a driver with no side to him - clearly not guarding his data despite Verstappen's flying start to life at RBR.
“Definitely,” the Dutchman admitted when asked if Ricciardo was his source, “I mean, he has a lot of experience, so you try to see what he is doing because I still don't have the idea of which direction you have to go because I've never driven the car [in Canada]. You rely on the data from last year but you were not in that car so it's a bit different.”
Despite using Ricciardo's set-up guidelines – or perhaps because of them – Verstappen has moved himself into the same part of the grid as the Australian, but says he is not phased by going up against a more seasoned opponent with the same equipment.
“To be honest, I've always been up against drivers who have had more experience, even Carlos [Sainz],” he noted, “He was driving for five or six years in car racing [before F1] so it's a bit different, but I always seem to handle it well, and it doesn't seem to make a difference in my preparation.
“I can also see the difference between when I was 14 and 17 years old, where how much you gain is not just on pace or driving but just experience and that makes a difference. I think [Ricciardo]'s in a good flow but, to be honest, I'm also feeling well, so I wouldn't say it's harder to beat him. It's just that I'm trying to learn more and trying to do my thing. It will get better and better.”