Red Bull will “put as much performance onto the car as we possibly can” in time for the next Formula 1 race at Imola in a bid to improve its RB16B.

The Milton Keynes-based team enjoyed a strong start to the season at the Bahrain Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen taking a dominant pole position before narrowly being beaten to victory in the race by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

While its 2021 challenger held the edge over Mercedes at the season-opening round, that hasn’t stopped Red Bull forging ahead with a fresh development push in the three-week gap between races to extract more performance out of its updated car.

“We have some developments in the pipeline for Imola, more for subsequent races, so it’s now a two-pronged fight,” said Red Bull’s chief engineer Paul Monaghan.

“We need to put this car down on the ground and run and give us no hiccups. We will put as much performance onto the car as we possibly can by Imola.

“Our destiny is in our control and we can’t influence what Mercedes, McLaren, Ferrari and everybody else wants to do. So we’ve got to remain focused.”

Despite making a winning start to 2021, Mercedes is adamant it currently has no strengths over Red Bull this year.

But with 22 races still left to run in F1’s longest-ever season, Red Bull is aware it cannot afford to become complacent if it is to successfully dethrone Mercedes and win a first world title since 2013.

“We’ve identified some areas where the car can be improved and we concentrate on those,” Monaghan explained. “We can’t influence what the others do, so we’ve got to develop it, we’ve got to make it bulletproof.

“We’ve got to give Max and Checo a car they can drive as quickly as possible at Imola and Portugal and Spain and Monaco and wherever else we go. It’s not all about going to Imola and chalking a win on the board to say ‘oh we’re world champions’.

“That’s not going to happen. It’s going to be a long fight for a long season and it’s not won and lost here [in Bahrain].

“There’s a sense of disappointment in the garage which is felt by all, but we have a quick car, we have a fantastic pair of drivers and a good team. Everybody is aware that we are going to be challenging all the way through.”