Max Verstappen concedes ‘things have closed up’ ahead of F1 Monaco Grand Prix

Just when it looked like the 2024 Formula 1 season would be a carbon copy of the 2023 campaign, which saw Max Verstappen and Red Bull run away from the field in the Drivers’ Championship and the Constructors’ Championship, respectively, everything changed.

Lando Norris stormed to his maiden F1 victory at the Miami Grand Prix and, in the closing laps of last weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Verstappen had to sweat as Norris closed in a hurry. The Red Bull driver held on for the win, but Norris was within a second when Verstappen took the checkered flag.

Perhaps F1 analyst Will Buxton put it best following the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. “For the last two seasons drivers have needed to wish for another car in order take the fight to Max. Today, Lando wished only for another lap. It’s on,” posted Buxton on social media last Sunday.

With the grid in Monaco for the marquee event of the season, Verstappen conceded that the field has tightened in recent weeks.

“Yeah, I mean, 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,” said Verstappen at the FIA Press Conference on Thursday. “But for sure, Monaco is always like that anyway. And it will depend now who will put more performance on the car, find the best possible set-up on the car.

“But, for sure, things have closed up which makes, I think from our side, makes it of course very important to try and be at our very best, 100%. I know that is not always a very realistic possibility, but you always try to get to a certain point and maybe the last few races we haven’t been operating at that but, yeah, every single weekend we try again and try to find the best possible set-up in the car,” continued Verstappen. “But for sure, you can see it’s definitely closing up.”

Verstappen also noted that Monaco might not be the best layout for the RB20, Red Bull’s challenger for the 2024 season. “But I don’t think this is going to be a very easy weekend,” admitted Verstappen.

“But I think Monaco never is very straightforward, even when you are supposed to have the best car. Monaco is a very tricky track to get everything to work, get the [tires] to work, in a quali lap, for example, red flags, there’s always a lot of disruption and a lot of things can go right, but also a lot of things can go wrong,” continued Verstappen. “So yeah, we just need to be on it.

“Of course, Imola started off really bad and we managed to turn it around. I wouldn’t want to have a weekend like that again,” added Verstappen. “It’s quite stressful and not nice, but we know that this is a more difficult track for us, even though we have won here in the past. It’s quite complicated so we’ll see where we’re at tomorrow.”

Tomorrow meaning the first two practice sessions ahead of the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix. We’ll get our first look at Verstappen — and how close the chasing pack truly is — in just a few hours.

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