Max Verstappen Sets The Pace On Day 1 In Bahrain

Jarrod Partridge

(Photo courtesy Red Bull Racing press office)

Max Verstappen dominated both Friday practice sessions in Bahrain – and is now hoping to take the fight to Mercedes in the battle for pole position.

Verstappen set the standard in preseason testing, earning Red Bull the title of favourites.

And now, two weeks later, he kept his blistering pace by topping both Friday practice sessions – leading Valtteri Bottas in the first and Lando Noris in the second.

In his post-session press conference, the Dutchman insisted that it was now up to him and the team to translate this speed into qualifying.

‘It’s been a good day again and with the heat and the wind it is not easy to find a perfect balance around the whole lap but overall I would say it was a positive day.

‘There are still things to improve and look into for tomorrow, tyre wise and a bit of balance tuning, plus I think it will be even more windy which is a challenge for everyone in these cars.

‘I am pretty happy with the start of the weekend but tomorrow is a different day and we have to see whether we can do it in qualifying when it counts.

‘Of course, with the heat, it’s not easy to find a really good balance around the whole lap. I think it’s a positive day.

‘There are still things to look into what we can look better for tomorrow, but again, also tomorrow, I think it’s going to be even more windy so that will be even more difficult to drive. That’s the same for everyone, so we’ll see what happens,’ said Verstappen.

Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez completed his first race-weekend practice sessions in his Red Bull, finishing 6th in FP1 and 10th in FP2.

‘It feels great to finally get into a race weekend and I’m pleased so far with how things are going.

‘I’m settling in well and taking some steps forwards. If I were to summarize today, I’ve got some work to do on the short runs as over one lap I don’t quite feel the car is within me just yet and I still have to think about what the car is doing, but in the long runs I’m more comfortable and I think the pace is there so that’s positive.

‘I think we have some work to do on the soft tyre as there is also room for improvement there, but the car is performing well, we have good pace and tomorrow it will be pretty close in qualifying so we need to make sure we get it right and have a good start to the season,’ concluded Perez.

After continuing their strong pre-season form into the opening race in Bahrain, Red Bull Racing will be looking to capitalise on Mercedes early struggles and get their campaign off on to the perfect start with a pole position in tomorrow’s qualifying session.

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