Max in search of better balance with RB16

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Red Bull

Max Verstappen wants Red Bull to focus on themselves in Bahrain, saying Mercedes are clearly on top form again.

The Dutchman enjoyed a largely successful day of running on Friday, ending FP1 and FP2 in P6 and P2 respectively, with one spin being the only major incident for him.

In the latter session, Verstappen split the Mercedes drivers, going marginally quicker than Valtteri Bottas and three tenths slower than Lewis Hamilton.

While he was happy with his performance in FP2 in particular, he’s not getting his hopes up about being able to fight the German team at the business end of the weekend.

“The first session, I didn’t do a lot of running as we had some testings on the car and they didn’t seem to do what we wanted so I lost quite a bit of laps there but the second practice was alright I think so quite a few things to understand but it’s been a positive Friday in general,” he said.

“It will become clearer but you can clearly see they’re [Mercedes] quick again. There’s no surprise by that but from our side, we just need to focus on getting an even better balance in the car and then just focus on the race because the tyres here they’re quite tricky, there’s a lot of degradation lap after lap.”

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Verstappen wasn’t the only driver to complain about tyre degradation, with a huge proportion of the grid commenting on how quickly their sets wore out.

Given this, this Red Bull driver says that he and his team need to consider race-day strategy rather than just fully focus on qualifying on Saturday.

“There are still a few things to look into for qualifying performance but also you don’t want to fully focus on qualifying because like I said the race is quite aggressive on tyres,” he added.

There were even more complaints regarding the 2021 prototypes that Pirelli had the teams test, with Hamilton and Alex Albon being particularly outspoken.

Verstappen’s assessment wasn’t quite as damning, but he agrees that there are issues.

“They were a bit all over the place, to be honest, in terms of grip and balance, but we’ll look into that and speak to Pirelli about it,” he said.

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