Max Verstappen says he expects the upcoming Bahrain test and opening race of the 2022 Formula 1 season to present a very different picture to last week’s Barcelona test, making Red Bull’s early season prospects tough to rate.
Mercedes topped the opening week of testing with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell setting the fastest two times, and Sergio Perez over 0.4s short of Hamilton’s benchmark. Verstappen was another 0.2s further back but didn’t use the softer tire compounds, and he admits he’s not too sure how the competitive picture is shaping up.
“It’s difficult to rate (how the test went),” Verstappen said. “But I think what was positive is the car was running smoothly, I was happy with the balance – but Bahrain is going to be completely different, and also heading into race one, the cars will be completely different as well. So for me, I just focused on doing a lot of laps and tried to really nail down every single aspect of the car.
“I don’t really pay attention to the lap times yet, we will look into that in Q3 in Bahrain.”
While Verstappen was keen to emphasize the importance he is placing on getting comfortable with the new generation of car, he said he is a fan of how it feels and is already happy with his own level of performance, and also noted some promising signs when it comes to racing opportunities.
“The car runs really well,” he said. “Of course in general the weight is a bit up, but I really enjoy driving the car, it has a nice stable balance, and I think they look cool as well, so it’s always nice to jump into.
“I followed a little bit more and I do think the following improved, but let’s wait and see at race one because then you will really see everyone on the same tires, equal fuel. But I do think it’s a step forward.”