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Max sixth after Friday practice in Bahrain: 'I'm not too worried'

Published on 29 February 2024 by Stefan Meens

Following P6 in the opening practice session of the Bahrain Grand Prix, Max Verstappen again clocked the sixth fastest time in FP2. Lewis Hamilton was quickest ahead of Mercedes teammate George Russell. Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso completed the top three. Max’s Oracle Red Bull Racing colleague Sergio Perez finished Friday in tenth.

“It’s not too bad. It’s obviously very close”, said Max after the first day of the 2024 Formula 1 season. “Some teams around us maybe already turned up the engine in terms of top speed. We just focus on ourselves. We had some balance issues front to rear, but nothing big. It’s about finding the sweet spot, especially around here with the rough tarmac. Once you find that sweet spot, you pick up a lot of time.”

The reigning world champion continued saying: “It’s not too far away. And obviously we also want to focus on the long runs. Qualifying is important but we want to make sure the car is in good shape for the race. I was happier about the long run, but there are a couple of things that we can still improve. I’m not too worried about the gap to P1, but it’s going to be very close in qualifying, which is nice.”

FP2 is the only practice session in which the conditions are similar to qualifying and the race, with the teams keen to gain valuable track time. Guanyu Zhou is first out on track in the Stake. Max is the last driver to take to the circuit, and he does so eight minutes in. On his first timed lap, he moves into P4. The Dutchman’s RB20 appears to be on a longer run, indicating it is not a low fuel effort.

After bettering his time and progressing to third, Max heads back to the pits to prepare for qualifying simulations. Low fuel runs on the soft tyres make the lap times tumble with Hamilton setting the pace. Max completes one flying lap which grants him P4 before driving back into the pits.

With twenty minutes to go, Max sits in P6 and heads back out on a used set of the soft Pirellis for a long run. Most of the grid follow suit focussing on long runs, meaning lap times are not better in the closing quarter of FP2.

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