The Dutchman had headed into the Bahrain race as favourite for the victory, but ended up losing out to rival Lewis Hamilton after the world champion’s Mercedes team went aggressive with its strategy.
But Red Bull’s ability to respond to what Mercedes was doing was hampered by it not having the same number of tyre sets available.
While both Mercedes drivers had two sets of new hard tyres available to make a two-stop strategy work best, Verstappen had just one set on call – having used an extra one in practice.
Reflecting on how the race panned out, Verstappen reckoned that Red Bull would have to look at how it handled its use of tyres throughout the weekend.
“I think, strategy-wise, we’ll have to analyse what we could have done better, maybe,” said Verstappen. “But also, we didn’t have the tyres like they had.
“We didn’t really have a lot of flexibility in the strategy. So maybe also there we could have done better in choosing our tyres throughout the practice.”
Red Bull boss Christian Horner doesn’t think that the Bahrain GP was lost on strategy, though, as he suggests Mercedes had a much quicker car in the race than in qualifying.
“Mercedes had very strong pace at the beginning of the race and we couldn’t break [away], and create a gap to cover them,” he said. “Their degradation looked impressive.
“So Max could never get more than two seconds clear of Lewis. They obviously pitted early for the undercut, we then conceded track position. And going into the race we very much fixed our strategy on a two stop.
“They obviously went early again on their last stop. We stayed out 10 laps longer, so we had a better tyre for the final stint, but, unfortunately, Lewis had just enough to be able to hold on.
“It’s obviously tough to lose a close race like that, but we have to take a lot of positives out of the weekend.”
Despite being frustrated at not having delivered the victory in Bahrain, Verstappen said it was actually a good sign for Red Bull that it wasn’t happy with a result that in 2020 would have been welcomed.
“Last year we would have been super-happy with this result and now we are disappointed,” he said. “So we definitely made a good step forward and of course it is still a very long season. So… yeah… we just have to get on with it and try to do better.”