Max Verstappen says he is not used to Red Bull having such a strong start to the season after dominating the Bahrain Grand Prix, and has challenged his team to capitalize.
Red Bull enjoyed a comfortable one-two in Bahrain with Verstappen leading his home team-mate Sergio Perez and finishing more than half a minute clear of Fernando Alonso in third. Both cars retired from the same race in 2022 and the victory marks Verstappen’s first season-opening victory, something he says shows further improvement from Red Bull.
“It’s been a great start for us, for the whole team,” Verstappen said. “This is not something we are used to. We are very happy at this moment. But we always keep working.
“It was a very good race. I think it was important to have that first stint where I was able to open up the gap a bit and after that I was able to take care of my tires quite well. But obviously the car was working well, a bit like what we saw in testing and what we did over the weekend.
“You have to show that in a race; you never know what can happen along the race. We were on top of things. It was pretty easy. I think also with all the calls and pit stops, we did a good job.
“In the long run, though, I have quite a different car. You’re never really able to hit the limit, so naturally that was less of an issue anyway. I was no longer happy at the beginning of the weekend. There are still a few things that need to be reviewed. For now, we are happy. Tomorrow, once we get back home, we’ll catch up on everything before we get to Jeddah.”
Despite the dominance, Verstappen insists he does not expect Red Bull to enjoy the same advantage at every circuit, and believes the second race in Saudi Arabia could see a tighter battle.
“Saudi is quite a different track to this. You get a lot more straights, fast corners and a lot less degradation, and I think we were particularly good at degradation here. So I hope in terms of race pace that everyone is closer in Jeddah.
“I think I’ve said it before, lap performance during a race is very different in balance requirements anyway. So even when I said earlier on Friday that I wasn’t happy with the long run performance, my long runs were still fine. So I’m not really surprised (by the gap), just of course happy that it worked that way.
“Jeddah is going to be quite different again. Our car seems quite strong at high speed, but I think the Ferrari is quite quick on the straights, which in Jeddah is very nice to have, let’s put it that way. But time will tell. It’s really hard to know. We’ve only driven these cars here in Bahrain, so you just have to wait and see and of course try to get there in the best shape possible, and we’ll find out through practice where exactly we are.”
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