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Max fastest on productive first day of testing: 'It's what you hope for'

Published on 23 February 2023 by Stefan Meens

Max Verstappen enjoyed his first day of the 2023 Formula 1 pre-season test. The Oracle Red Bull Racing driver was quickest and lapped the Bahrain International Circuit 157 times in the new RB19.

“It went well today”, said Max after a busy day’s testing. “We were able to do a lot of laps and that’s what we hoped to do. The day went without issues so we were able to focus on the car and in understanding the new tyres. We've got a lot of miles in, both when it was hot during the day and when it was cooler in the evening.”

The reigning world champion added: “We already had some knowledge here because of last year’s car so it was an easier start for everyone. It’s nice to see the new car and to spot the development compared to last yar. The car behaves a little bit different, but that’s also because of the tyres. It was a good day to learn and understand these things.”

Despite an optimistic start to the season, it is too early to draw conclusions according to Max. “It’s too early to tell, but the car worked the way we hoped it would and that’s the most important. Hopefully tomorrow morning I can get some more miles in and understand the car even better and take some ideas to the opening race next week.”

Following the morning session, all teams, bar Red Bull, switched drivers, meaning Max comfortably became the most productive driver of the day. The Dutchman will hand over the reigns of the RB19 to team mate Sergio Perez on Friday afternoon.

Where Red Bull enjoyed a lot of track time, both McLaren and Haas struggled with reliability issues in the afternoon with their cars spending more time in the pits than hoped for.

As the sun set, the track temperatures dropped, resulting in ever improving lap times. This ultimately culminated in the quickest lap of the day set by Max (1:32.837).

In the final hour of the session, only Fernando Alonso came close to top spot on the timing sheets. The Aston Martin driver clocked the second fastest lap, just 0.029s shy of Max’ best effort. The Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz completed the top four, albeit four tenths off the pace.