F1 Competitors Concede: Red Bull a Step Ahead in Preseason Performance

Carlos Sainz propelled Ferrari to the forefront during the second day of Formula One testing, yet the consensus remains that reigning champions Red Bull are ahead of the competition.

The extent of their lead remains uncertain, with one final day of testing before the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 2. Max Verstappen set a strong pace for Red Bull on the first day, but Sainz took the spotlight on day two with a leading time of 1:29.921 in the early afternoon.

Despite Sainz’s performance, preseason testing is not solely about lap times. Verstappen’s teammate, Perez, didn’t match this standout lap, but Red Bull’s consistent speed in various conditions still drew admiration from rival teams’ engineers.

“There’s one car that seems to have found a big step, unfortunately [it’s] the car that was already the quickest last year,” Stella remarked on Thursday night.

Mercedes’ George Russell shared the same sentiments from the early stages of preseason testing that Red Bull appears to maintain its lead over the Formula One competition.

Max Verstappen, the current champion, led the first day of this week’s testing by a significant margin of over a second. This advantage came after several attempts at a fast lap and during optimal track conditions in the session’s last hour.

Russell acknowledged Red Bull’s swift adaptation to the testing phase, attributing it to their strong performance in the previous year’s championship.

He anticipates that Red Bull will remain the foremost contender in Formula One as the new season kicks off on March 2.

“I think it was probably as you’d expect from Red Bull, they’re in such great momentum at the moment,” Russell said. “They started these new regulations on the front foot. They came here and have been solid ever since.

“As I said, they’ve been the favourites, they’re a step ahead of everybody else here in Bahrain. They’ve had an impressive winter no doubt.

“But that was to be expected, such an impressive team and outfit, and we need to see where we fall out in the coming races.”