Verstappen braced for ‘tricky’ high winds in qualy

Date published: March 26 2021

Max Verstappen Red Bull PA

Max Verstappen was pleased with his Friday practice sessions, but is expecting a tricky day on Saturday with the forecasted windy conditions.

Verstappen could not have got off to a better start to the opening day of the 2021 season, finishing P1 in both practice sessions on Friday in Bahrain.

Many are of the opinion that Red Bull could well be favourites over the dominant Mercedes outfit heading into the new campaign, but the true picture is unlikely to reveal itself until qualifying, which is expected to be done in very windy conditions.

Speaking to Formula1.com, Verstappen said: “I was really happy but tomorrow is again a different day, even more windy, which with these cars is more tricky, so again we’ll have to try and be on it, but again, a good start to the weekend.

“I was also really [happy] before, but of course, now we have to show what we can do in qualifying.”

He added: “Of course, with the heat, it’s not easy to find a really good balance around the whole lap. I think it’s a positive day. There are still things to look into, what we can look to do better for tomorrow, but again, also tomorrow, I think it’s going to be even more windy so that will be even more difficult to drive in. That’s the same for everyone, so we’ll see what happens.”

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Verstappen’s new team-mate Sergio Perez, who has arrived from Racing Point, has enjoyed a steady start to life at Red Bull, but he has admitted he still does not feel entirely comfortable in his new car.

“I think we are certainly making big steps and I think in summary we’ve got some work to do over a lap,” said Perez.

“I don’t quite feel the car within me. I’m still having to think a lot [about] what’s going on out there, it doesn’t seem to be coming naturally over a lap.

“The long run, I seem to be more comfortable. I think the pace is there over the long run so that’s a positive bit, but yeah we’ve got some work to do on the performance side and also with our soft tyre we’re going to be improving a bit more.”

Overall, Checo seems pleased enough with the car itself and he hopes they will be contenders heading into qualifying.

He added: “I’m pleased, I think the car is performing well. We have a good pace. And tomorrow is going to be really close out there in qualifying so we have to make sure that we get it right and have a good start to the season.

“I think if we are able to get it right we should be in the mix tomorrow.”

Where Red Bull finish in qualifying ultimately depends on how Mercedes perform, and Helmut Marko is waiting to see their true speed.

“We don’t know how far Mercedes can turn up the engine, but we hope we can battle it out in qualifying,” he told RacingNews365.

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