‘Red Bull wary of challenge presented by Mickey Mouse Monaco’

It was a tough weekend for Red Bull Racing at Imola, but in the end Max Verstappen “only” won in Italy. Now comes the Monaco Grand Prix soon, a race where qualifying is very important. If you don't start at the front on a tight street circuit, you can forget about good classification.

Red Bull struggled on Friday at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, but managed to turn around its performance as Max Verstappen was on the verge of holding on to Lando Norris' truck for the win at Imola.

Formula One takes place on consecutive weekends, with Monaco this weekend, with motorsport consultant Helmut Marko already claiming the team will be on the back foot – having struggled somewhat on street tracks.

“This will be our toughest race yet, because of the bumps and curb stones,” he said.

One of the key members of the Red Bull team is simulator driver Rudi van Buuren, who sat in on the exclusive session Racing News 365 An interview about the challenges the team may face in Monaco.

“I think it's based on what I saw last year, that the street circuits were probably the most difficult,” he said of Marko's comments.

“At the moment, we have no guarantee that this will be addressed. We had Miami, of course, but this is not a real street circuit, and Imola was very bumpy and there were stones on the pavement, but there were also very fast sections.”

“This is the first real Mickey Mouse street circuit of the year. I think everyone is being careful.”


Next weekend he will be in the Red Bull team, but it's not as if Van Buuren is just collecting data now, it's something he's been working on for a while.

“I was only there last week and obviously we did some driving in that time,” he says.

“Formula 1 takes place behind the scenes before what we see in real life, so Monaco has long entered the simulation.

“We've already traveled there and we'll start there again next Thursday, that's the way it's going.

Red Bull's RB19 didn't perform well on street circuits last year, so how is Van Buuren helping the team prepare for its first real track of the year?

“Problems in Monaco? Last year we got on pole and won, so how big are the problems?” he joked.

“In Singapore, it was a very difficult weekend. As with any team, lessons are learned from weekends like this. There are many roads that lead to Rome and there are reasons why, but solutions will be found.”

He continued: “But there are ideas about why it was difficult at different tracks last year, and these changes are being implemented.

“We'll see this weekend if it's a success.”

In the simulator

But what exactly is Van Buren's role as a simulator driver?

“In my position, I don't determine what the setup changes are. I drive and point out how the car feels,” he explains.

“What's good and what's not good? What do you need to drive more aggressively? How does the car get over curbs, how does it get traction and how does it turn in low-speed corners?”

“Then, of course, you go into a lot of detail. I answer that.

“Of course, there are very good engineers from all sides coming up with different setup options on what would work on the track.”

Then he comes up with an example. “I can look at Imola. We started the weekend with a philosophy in which the team thought: 'This has to be the case.'

“But that turned out not to be the case at all. Then we traveled deep into the night in the simulator and found something completely different.

“And suddenly things got a lot better on Saturday, which is what I mean by the fact that there are a lot of settings you can work with.

“That's where my role comes in. I drive my car and give feedback on how I feel it should be better.

“Then things are adjusted, then I go back to driving and of course this is an all-day game in the simulator.

“Then you finally get to the setup process where you say: ‘This is practical, this is the key.’ There are so many steps in between and the cars are often quite laborious in terms of the setup.

“Nowadays there are a lot of details about the cars that can be tuned, which also affect each other. It's just a complete roadmap to get to the final product.”


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