Max Verstappen reacts to ominous F1 testing pace in first proper Red Bull RB20 outing

Henry Valantine
Max Verstappen drives the Red Bull RB20.

Max Verstappen in the RB20.

Max Verstappen has spoken after the first day of pre-season testing in Bahrain on Wednesday, saying the RB20 “was responding well” to him.

The 1.1-second gap he had to Lando Norris behind him in second come the end of the day would make that seem like something of an understatement, but the lottery of testing is that no-one can be fully sure how much performance every team is holding back.

The three-time reigning World Champion clocked up more than 140 laps in the car before handing it over to Sergio Perez on Thursday, with a solid day’s work behind him that showed the RB20 as an immediate prospect on track.

Max Verstappen reacts to first day of F1 2024 testing in Bahrain

Verstappen appeared in command of his car throughout the day in Bahrain, with the RB20 appearing to be a radical departure from the all-conquering RB19 that brought so much success last season.

While it was certainly a risk for Red Bull to depart from a formula that was so fruitful, the early signs were positive for the Dutchman on the first day of testing in Sakhir.

“It feels good to be back in an F1 car again and I had fun out on track today,” Verstappen said.

“We covered a lot of laps and tried quite a few things with the car, which was important, so happy overall with how it went.

“After the winter break, the first few laps always surprise you a little but then you get back into the swing of things pretty quickly.

“Overall, the car was responding well and considering this was only testing we had a nice day.

“Looking to tomorrow, we are speaking to our engineers about what the plans will be, but I am looking forward to getting into the car in the afternoon.”

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Verstappen’s race engineer, Gianpiero Lambiase was seen raising a smile when his driver clocked his initial flying lap eight tenths faster than Norris, even before his fastest time of the day.

Although there are still things to be worked on moving forward, he explained that plenty of work has already been undertaken on a productive day for Red Bull.

“The winter break was fairly short this year but, nonetheless, the amount of work which has gone into the car has been impressive as usual,” Lambiase said.

“We came to Bahrain with a few unknowns around a relatively new car, but we have tested most of the fundamentals on day one and got the answers we needed to.

“Now we have a solid base to take onto days two and three, when Checo takes over the car in the morning.”

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