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Formula 1 Testing in Bahrain - Day 1

Verstappen: Very happy with a positive start

Happy Verstappen Horner Red Bull F1 testing

Red Bull and Honda got their act together this year and appear to have the RB16B well sorted after Max Verstappen topped the times on the first day of the three-day Formula 1 test at Bahrain International Circuit today.

Verstappen was on duty all day and immediately pushed his new car to the max on a very dusty, green track and had his moments before he settled into a rhythm. He ended the day fastest of all and with 138 timed laps, more than any of his rivals on the day.

The Dutchman is easy to read, his body language and soundbites always a clear mirror to his mindset, and after his first day back at the office he was notably upbeat: “We had a very positive day and managed a lot of laps even though the track conditions were quite difficult.

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“It was very warm with a lot of wind and we know the degradation is always high around here so I’m very happy with how it went. We aimed for this number of laps and when you can complete a full programme like this the Team can also be pleased with the information we have.

“We don’t need to talk about pace yet and it isn’t really a discussion until we get to Q3 at the first race weekend – it’s only then you see the real pace in all the cars. The main thing is that the car felt nice to drive, so it’s a positive start,” explained Verstappen.

Newcomer to Red Bull, Sergio Perez begins his proper induction and will hoping for better conditions on Saturday than the dust storms and swirling winds that engulfed the region on Friday.

The Mexican is hoping to bring some more consistency to the team and provide a stronger benchmark for Verstappen than his predecessors were able to do.

To start, first prize will be not to crash or bend the RB16B in his first outing tomorrow – Pierre Gasly style – as its obviously a handy piece of kit they produced at Milton Keynes for 2021.

Head of Race Engineering Guillaume Rocquelin said in the team report: “For Sergio tomorrow, the conditions should hopefully be a little better. It’s not supposed to be quite as hazy, but the wind is likely to still be quite strong. The plan will be pretty much the same for Checo, so fingers crossed we’re looking forward to another good day.”

As for topping the time screens at the end of the first day of the F1 season, Rocquelin added:”Lap time is not what it’s about at this stage and I don’t think Max will be getting too pumped up about being at the top of the timesheet on day one. What’s more important is that we were able to follow the plan and do the laps.”

In the sister team, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly started the morning session strong, racking up 74 laps in the AT02 – the highest of all drivers within the session, and good enough for P2 at the end of his morning stint.

The afternoon saw their rookie Yuki Tsunoda head out for his first official test, with conditions becoming more difficult as an increase in wind saw large amounts of sand and dust settle on the track.

The wind and the sand, both in the air and on the track didn’t make his day an easy one, but with a slightly shortened session due to an issue in the car, he could complete a total of 37 laps to finish in P9 at the end of his first day.

Tomorrow both Alpha Tauri drivers will take to the track again for the second day of pre-season testing, with Tsunoda in the morning and Gasly in the afternoon.