Verstappen Unfazed by Mercedes Gap

Max Verstappen remains unfazed by Red Bull’s shortfall to Mercedes regarding single-lap performance, despite indicating that certain Formula 1 teams had ramped up their engine power during practice sessions at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

During the second practice session at the Bahrain International Circuit, the reigning world champion clocked the sixth fastest time, trailing Lewis Hamilton by under half a second. Hamilton, in the upgraded Mercedes W15, led the pack in terms of pace.

While Verstappen didn’t fully showcase Red Bull’s potential over one lap, his dominance was evident in the race simulations.

Analyzing Red Bull’s performance in Bahrain, Verstappen hinted at the disparity in engine modes as a possible explanation for their inferiority to Mercedes.

He stated: “I think it was not too bad, it’s just that it’s very close. Maybe some people around us already turned up the engine a bit in terms of top speed.

“We just focus on ourselves and I think from today there were a few little balance issues from front to rear but nothing big. It’s just about trying to find that sweet spot. Especially around here with the right tarmac.

“Once you get into that sweet spot you just pick up time. That’s what we will try to focus on tomorrow.”

When questioned further about the engine mode issue, he elaborated: “I wouldn’t say everyone around us did that but a few did. I am not too worried about the gap to P1, for example, but it will be very close in qualifying, so that will be very nice.

“The long run – I was a bit happier about that but again there’s a few little things that we can do better.”

It’s not particularly shocking that Red Bull possesses a superior car for race days, considering their tendency to outperform the rest of the field on Sundays in 2023.

He continued: “It’s not too far away, it’s trying to get into it. I feel a little bit happier with the car but at the end of the day, you just want to focus on the long run as that’s when the car really needs to work.

“Of course, qualifying is important but we need to make sure the car is in good shape.”