Red Bull have claimed they were competitive “without even trying” at the end of Bahrain’s second day of official testing.
While Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren have found themselves in the headlines for different reasons on track, Red Bull have been fairly understated in comparison.
Mercedes have raised eyebrows with the appearance of their W13 minus sidepods and Ferrari with their pace, while McLaren have been affected by brake problems.
For Red Bull, it has all been fairly serene and after Sergio Perez completed 138 laps on Thursday, Max Verstappen pumped in 86 on Friday with the second fastest time of the 15 drivers during the scheduled eight hours of running.
— Oracle Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) March 11, 2022
Kevin Magnussen later went fastest of all in the Haas, but that was during their permitted extra hour when the temperatures had cooled down.
There was satisfaction in the Red Bull camp, especially as it appeared they had not over-exerted – suggesting the sandbags had been piled up.
“It was more of a stop-start day today, mostly by design,” explained Guillaume Rocquelin, Red Bull’s head of race engineering.
“We had a good continuous run yesterday, so today was more about exploring and testing different things.
“We spent more time in the garage making changes to the car and also taking more risks. We learned a lot and gathered a lot of information today.
“I’m quite happy with what we found out. We are progressing in different directions and it’s all very positive. We were reasonably competitive at the end without even trying.”
With only nine cars on track during the afternoon, it was rare that two were in close proximity doing similar kinds of run plan – but that was the case when Verstappen found himself on the same patch as tarmac as Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, and a little ‘race’ ensued.
“It was fun to have a little battle with Carlos,” said Verstappen of the dice with his former Toro Rosso team-mate.
“I think he was on a long run with more fuel and I was on a shorter run and once I caught him he started using DRS. I think he wanted to race as well.
“I think we did as good a job as we could today. It was very warm and there were quite a few red flags. It was quite a good day, all pretty standard and we put quite a good amount of laps on the car.”
'Anyone writing off Red Bull doesn't know F1'
Thinking that Red Bull or Mercedes will be down on the rest of the grid with their cars is crazy talk.