While few doubt that Max Verstappen has the talent needed to succeed in Formula 1, it would be foolish to suggest that he will be able to deliver his best for Red Bull straight away this weekend.

For the demands of modern F1 are such that getting used to new cars, new teams and new environments is no longer the work of the moment.

And although Red Bull and Toro Rosso may share an owner and stickers, that is where the similarities end.

As Verstappen himself admitted on Dutch TV: "It is a completely different car.

"It's a bit more aerodynamic, a bit smaller, the position of the seat is different. I needed to get used to it, but at the moment it feels good and of course it's too early to tell because I haven't driven the car yet. So maybe after first practice I can still change a couple of things."

The difference

Indeed, the STR11 and RB12 are a world apart, not only being powered by different Ferrari and Renault engines, but also having different downforce levels. That may require a different driving style.

But one area that may particularly challenge Verstappen is the steering wheel, as it is not only shaped differently but has very different functionality.

These outline differences mean that you cannot simply take the controls from an STR11 and move them across to the RB12. The controls need learning from scratch, which will mean a steep learning curve.

Toro Rosso wheel

Scuderia Toro Rosso STR11 steering wheel

Red Bull wheel 

The two wheels do share some similarities, with the same style rotaries used in the central panel of the wheel but the comparison ends at their tactility, as the settings they change on each car are vastly different.

Meanwhile, many of the single use push buttons are placed up around the top of the Red Bull wheel, rather than flanking the central panel, making quick-fire changes a different prospect.


The state of the art Red Bull Racing simulator

Of course, in this era of simulation Verstappen has likely spent endless hours at Milton Keynes in the simulator, honing the skills required to master the RB12's more complicated interface.

After all, the simulator provides the driver with a huge advantage, as it not only provides a replica of the physical real world environment but also provides a virtual test platform with which to check procedures, such as, race starts, power unit failures, etc.

This is invaluable to the driver, as it helps to build an understanding of what to do when a crisis occurs, and is perhaps even something that can help in the bid for a good result.

Much like a seasoned gamer swapping from one console to another, it will take time for Verstappen to adjust to a different ergonomic layout but it will also be interesting to see what lengths Red Bull may have gone to in redesigning his wheel when compared with Ricciardo or Kvyat's layout.

After all, each driver has his own unique signature and work carried out with the designers and engineers could hold the key to the familiarisation process.

But there is at least one thing that will help Verstappen: he used a Renault engine last year, which means many of the controls will at least be familiar to him.

"Fortunately I have driven with a Renault, so I know the settings already a bit," he said. "But how you operate everything is even between a Toro Rosso and Red Bull different.

"The first day at the factory I had to learn many things, with many procedures to study. I've spend a lot of time in the simulator to practice and it seems under control now."

Let's see how he performs under the heat of battle in Barcelona.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB12
Source: Motorsport.com

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