“The W12 wasn’t as stable, predictable or planted as some of our rivals,” team principal Toto Wolff said ahead of round one. “Red Bull looked strong on both the long and the short runs, but as always with testing, it’s difficult to be certain of true performance.
“The only thing we know for sure is that we must prove our ability to react. From the moment the third day of testing finished, we got our heads down and started to figure out how we can return to Bahrain in stronger form in just a few days’ time.”
Wolff has said the team is under pressure though it’s a line we’ve heard a few times before, and the record books certainly don’t lie.
Mercedes won’t be in ruin should it not emerge victorious on Sunday but the incredible heights it has maintained for so long only magnifies every slip in performance, and Red Bull could be the team to make them crack.
The real deal?
With a top seat at Mercedes potentially on the horizon and the admission of a performance clause in Max Verstappen’s Red Bull contract, 2021 is a crucial year for the Milton-Keynes squad.
It looked to be the class of the field during testing, topping the times on the final day and the RB16B looked planted while Mercedes’s challenger looked a handful. Can it finally carry on its promise into the season proper?