Max Verstappen says Red Bull’s biggest positive from the opening day of pre-season testing in Bahrain was his consistent running rather than setting the fastest lap.
Red Bull has had a number of pre-season programs impacted by reliability, or at the very least been unable to match the sort of mileage achieved by Mercedes during testing. On Friday, however, Verstappen was quickest overall — 0.2s clear of Lando Norris as Mercedes struggled — and the team completed the most laps, with the Dutchman excited most about the latter.
“(It was) very good, we had a very positive day,” Verstappen said. “We could do a lot of laps, even though the track conditions were quite difficult — very warm, a lot of wind — and of course we know the degradation around here is quite high and it’s not easy to do a lot of laps in a row. But very happy with today. I mean, we don’t need to speak about pace or whatever, we just did our program — the car felt nice to drive, which I think is always very positive to start the test like that.”
Given the fact it was only the first day of testing, Verstappen says completing the schedule is the main priority and insists he won’t to pay close attention to performance until the race itself in two weeks’ time.
“Yeah it’s very positive, that’s of course what you always aim for and when you can complete a day like this we are all very pleased.
“Maybe a little bit more (performance will be shown over the weekend) but I always want to wait until Q3 in the first race weekend and then you will see the real pace in all the cars.”
Even the conditions could not dampen Verstappen’s spirit on the opening day, when teams were faced with a sandstorm after lunch that reduced visibility and led to cars kicking up a spray of sand when at its worst.
“The heat initially just makes it all a bit more difficult in general, but I have to say I changed my visor and I think it’s always looking a bit more tricky on the camera. When you’re sitting in the car it’s fine.”