Verstappen on his concerns ahead of F1 Monaco GP as Ferrari and McLaren threaten: “It’s probably not going to be our best track”

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In Thursday’s press conference in Monaco, Max Verstappen has spoken on his concerns for this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix and how his car might perform.

The worry surrounds Monaco’s track layout, with all the bumps, kerbs and low speed coners, knowing this has been a struggle for the RB19 and RB20.

Although it has improved this year, the struggles he faced in Imola further prove that there is still work to be done. 

“I think, looking at the track layout, it’s probably not going to be our best track, just because our car normally struggles a bit over bumps and kerbs.

“We did work on it a bit compared to last year. I think so far, on most of the tracks that we’ve been to, our low-speed performance has improved a little bit. But I don’t think this is going to be a very easy weekend.”

Verstappen has been verbal on his dislike of street circuits in the past but Monaco has been different for him. The narrow layout of the track makes it much more challenging for him, especially in qualifying.

The 26-year-old felt immense pressure to win in the streets of Monte Carlo – until he did eventually win in 2021 – but now he takes this round as “just another weekend”. 

“Yeah, I do think compared to like any other street circuit, because it’s so narrow, I find it’s even more challenging. And especially in qualifying, you can feel like your heart rate, you know, just the adrenaline rush you get around here. You don’t really get that on any other… 

“I do think that up until the point I didn’t win here, you know, the pressure of wanting to win. Monaco was always very high. You really wanted to show off.

“But I feel like that’s a bit different now. You’re probably a bit more relaxed.”

The Dutchman acknowledges that the Ferraris and McLarens pose a threat this weekend. After a strong two races for the Woking-based team in Miami and Imola, the American circuit seeing a maiden win for Norris and Imola finding Verstappen only 7 tenths ahead of him at the conclusion of the race, Verstappen thinks the McLarens have the potential to be very good again. 

The 26-year-old also mentions that he feels Ferrari are always strong in Monte Carlo, despite the hometown hero, Leclerc, having the worst of luck on these streets.

Along with McLaren ramping up performance, he knows anything can happen during this race and he can see the gaps closing up between himself and these two teams. 

“Yeah, I mean, naturally from outside, I think it is one of the more difficult tracks for us.

“Plus, in the last few years, I think Ferrari has always been very, very strong here. Plus, McLaren lately, the last two races, have really ramped up in performance. So they for sure are the ones to watch as well.

“And in Monaco, you might have some surprises.

“I think after Miami, it was quite clear when we went into Imola, it had all closed up quite a bit, even though Imola was probably also not our easiest weekend. But for sure, Monaco is always like that anyway.”

Despite a year of pole positions for the Dutchman in Grand Prix qualifying sessions, he knows this one is definitely not guaranteed for him. Monaco is proven to be a difficult track each year and he will need to make sure he has the perfect car set-up so he can put it to use.

He finds Monaco to be a difficult track to put it all together due to the close proximity of the walls and the general nature of the street circuit. Verstappen is going for a ninth straight pole on Saturday.

“Like I said before, it’s always a very, very difficult weekend to get everything together and be on pole here. So, I don’t want to really think ahead too far.

“Of course, the start of the year in terms of qualifying has been new to me as well. I think so far, it’s been going really well in qualifying. So of course, I’ll try to, but it’s not a guarantee, not a given, especially around Monaco.”