Verstappen opted to focus on long runs in final Bahrain test

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB20. 23.02.2024. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day Three. © Red Bull Racing
© Red Bull Racing

Having dominated the first day of pre-season testing in Bahrain on Wednesday, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was a mere fourth in the final session on Friday, almost half a second off the pace of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

But Verstappen wasn't feeling worried about hos things had finished, explaining to the media that the teams' focus today had been on long distance race simulations and tyre tests rather than single lap pace.

"Overall it was very good today," he insisted. "We focused on the long running to get more of an understanding of the car, and it was good to see that the performance of the car was very strong.

"We made the plan to not focus on pure lap time and tried different compounds," he explained. "So I am happy with the laps that we did today.

It was Verstappen's last chance to get behind the wheel of the RB20 before the cars set out for the first free practice session at the same venue on Thursday ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

"As we head into the race weekend it is all about fine tuning the car and also seeing what the race throws at you when you push the car to the limit," Verstappen said.

"We now need to look into the data a bit more and try to come up with a plan for the week ahead. We’ve had a really positive test and we have learned a lot from everything we changed, so we are looking forward to next week."

(L to R): Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing with Gianpiero Lambiase (ITA) Red Bull Racing Engineer. 23.02.2024. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day Three. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

Verstappen had been in the car in the afternoon, while Sergio Perez also had a further stint in the car in the morning which saw another drain cover come loose which came close to damaging his car.

Fortunately it didn't cost him much time, with the team checking the car fgor damage during an extended red flag for track repairs after which Perez was quickly back to work.

“It has been a good start to the year for the team, we have got plenty of mileage over the last few days," he said. "The run programme that we put together was very good and meant we really made the most out of the days.

"Now it is time to look forward to the race next weekend, I have a good feeling in the car, so let’s see once we get to race it, but the feeling is very positive."

Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing RB20. 23.02.2024. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day Three. -, EMail: © Copyright: Bearne / XPB Images

Red Bull's head of race engineering GianPiero Lambiase said that Friday had been about "tidying up the loose ends from the previous two days of running
" as well as letting the drivers get comfortable with the new car.

"Whilst it has been a globally positive start to the year, the hard work has only just begun," he commented after the end of the final day of testing.

"We now have a much more informed understanding of the platform beneath us and the areas that need addressing to kickstart development.

"We will be looking to make the most of the few days back in Milton Keynes, before returning [to Bahrain] for what will hopefully be an exciting season opener [next week]."

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