Monaco GP could be tough for Red Bull - Verstappen

monaco gp could be tough for red bull - verstappen

Max Verstappen won a rain-affected Monaco Grand Prix last year

Max Verstappen says this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix will be “one of the more difficult races” for his Red Bull team.

McLaren’s Lando Norris has emerged as a major threat to the world champion in the past two events, the Briton taking his maiden win in Miami and finishing a close second in Imola on Sunday.

Verstappen said: “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. 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 won in Monaco last year but picked out Ferrari and McLaren as two teams to watch out for.

“After Miami, it was quite clear when we went into Imola that [the gap between teams] had all closed up a bit, even though Imola was probably also not our easiest weekend. For sure, Monaco is always like that anyway.”

Can Norris mount title challenge?

Norris said he was “hopeful it could be a good weekend”.

And asked whether he could even mount a title challenge, the 24-year-old said: “I’m - what? Sixty points behind Max. It’s a long way to go. I am definitely not thinking about it and it is not going to change anything.

“You concentrate on getting a good result and then things play out for themselves. We have definitely put ourselves in there."

With a third of the season gone, Norris says there is "plenty of opportunity" for him and his team.

“There are things coming in the future and, if things start to turn around, we can definitely start coming back at some things.”

monaco gp could be tough for red bull - verstappen

Norris (right) claimed his fourth podium finish of the 2024 season at Imola

Other big names optimistic

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took pole position in Monaco in both 2021 and 2022, and was third on the grid last year behind Verstappen and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso.

Leclerc grew up in Monaco and said: “I would be surprised if I am not in the mix for pole at least.”

The 26-year-old said the challenge of the tight and twisty street circuit was arguably the greatest on the calendar.

“What you have in Monaco more than the tracks is the risk assessment,” Leclerc said. “This is where the driver can make a big difference by taking more risk. It either pays off or not at all.

"As soon as you try to go a bit more on the limit, you straight away see it on the lap time. Coming Q3, you start to get pretty close to the walls but it is exciting. I don’t get that feeling anywhere else on the calendar.”

Lewis Hamilton said he believed Mercedes would have a better weekend in Monaco after some difficult recent races.

And Alonso, whose team have suffered an alarming dip in form in the past two events, said he was “optimistic we can do a strong weekend”.

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