Max Verstappen says he is not used to Red Bull having such a strong start to a 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 home teammate Sergio Perez and finishing over 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 ever season-opening win, 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’re very happy at the moment. But we always keep working.
“It was a really good race. I think it was important to have that first stint where I could open up the gap a little bit and after that I could look after my tires quite well. But obviously the car was working well, a bit like what we’ve seen in testing and what we’ve done throughout the weekend.
“You need to show that in a race; you never know what can happen throughout the race. We were on top of things. It was quite straightforward. I think also with all the calls and pit stops, we did a good job.
“In the long run, anyway, I have quite a different car. You never really are able to push to the limit, so naturally that was less of an issue anyway. I was already not happy in the beginning of the weekend. There are still a few things that need to be looked at. For now, we’re happy. Tomorrow once we get back home, we’ll get on top of everything before we get to Jeddah.”
Despite the dominance, Verstappen insists he doesn’t expect Red Bull to enjoy the same advantage at every circuit, believing the second race in Saudi Arabia could see a closer battle.
“Saudi is quite a different track to this one. You have a lot more straights, fast corners, and a lot less degradation — and I think here we were particularly good on the degradation. So I do expect in terms of race pace that everyone is closer in Jeddah.
“I think I’ve said before, the one lap performance during a race is very different in balance requirements anyway. So even when I said before on Friday, I was unhappy with the long-run performance, my long runs were still OK. So not really surprised (by the gap), just of course happy that it worked out like this.
“Jeddah is going to be quite different again. Our car seems quite strong in high-speed, but I think the Ferrari is quite quick on the straight which in Jeddah is very nice to have, let’s say it like that. 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 and get there in the best shape possible, and we’ll find throughout practice where we are exactly.”