Bahrain GP: Verstappen’s Unusual Start Raises Intra-Team Upset, Perez Dark Horse
The Bahrain Grand Prix kicked off with an unusual start for Max Verstappen and his Red Bull team. While his teammate Sergio Perez emerged as a dark horse, Verstappen expressed concerns about his car’s behavior, which was different from last week’s testing.
During the first practice session, Lewis Hamilton was not the fastest and was six tenths of a second behind his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez. He expressed concern about the change in his car’s behavior since last week’s testing, which was much smoother.
In the Friday practice sessions of the Bahrain Grand Prix, Max Verstappen’s latest Formula 1 title defence had a slightly unusual beginning.
Despite some concerns about his car’s behavior during the first practice session, Max Verstappen’s start to the Bahrain Grand Prix was not too bad. Any issues were likely able to be resolved with set-up adjustments overnight. By the end of Friday, there were indications that Verstappen and the Red Bull had reestablished their rapport.
Based on his strong performances in previous races and his current form in practice, Verstappen is considered to be the clear favorite to secure pole position and win the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Verstappen reflected on a challenging start to the day, stating that FP1 was particularly difficult and he struggled to find the right balance.
He found this strange because during testing, while there were some areas that could be improved upon, things were not as far off as they seemed during practice. He mentioned that there were a few things that needed to be better understood.
Verstappen reflected on his practice sessions, saying that FP1 was a struggle as he couldn’t find the right balance in the car, which was surprising as they had performed well in testing.
However, he noted that they made some changes and improvements in FP2, and the car felt more connected. He was pleasantly surprised by their pace during the long run and feels that the car is not too bad in that regard. He acknowledged that he needs to find his rhythm again with the car and adjust to its handling from short to long runs.
As the Red Bulls zoom by, two things catch the eye: they are not as well-connected as they were a week ago, and they are generating more sparks than any other car when under load.
Verstappen and Perez’s commitment levels in the RB19 are not as high as they were in testing, especially at low speed. However, the car is still performing decently.
Verstappen appears to have more confidence on low fuel and can attack the corners more aggressively, while Perez needs to make a second attempt to get the car to the apex. Although the car doesn’t look incredibly stable, it still performs well.
Verstappen remains confident that he and Red Bull are favourites to win, but he acknowledges that addressing his Friday problems may have consequences later in the weekend.
He believes that if he feels comfortable in the car again and can push it to its limits during one lap, they will be very fast. However, they must also ensure that the car performs well during the long run without falling out of the window.
Verstappen’s less than perfect Friday performance raises questions for his competitors, but they may not be able to take advantage. Charles Leclerc of Ferrari doubts his team has the performance to secure pole position and is more concerned about their race pace.
Leclerc’s lack of familiarity with his new car due to Ferrari’s pre-season testing approach may be a contributing factor. He admits that the car feels better than it did during testing, but there is still work to be done.
Despite Verstappen’s challenges in practice, Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc acknowledged that Red Bull seems to be ahead of everyone else. Leclerc also explained that he was able to put the car to his liking in Friday’s practice after inconsistent testing due to the team trying out multiple things. He added that the feeling was better than testing, but Red Bull’s superiority was confirmed.
On the other hand, Carlos Sainz had a different experience with the Ferrari car during the Bahrain Grand Prix practice. After feeling more connected with the 2023 car in testing than last year’s, Sainz now feels like the car is not responding as he expected or as it did during testing.
He struggled with the balance of the car and had a big spin during first practice when Ferrari was experimenting with wing choices, which put him off his stride. However, Sainz and the team are working on it and expect to improve the car’s performance for the upcoming sessions.
Carlos Sainz had a difficult Friday practice, feeling that the car wasn’t responding as he expected or as it did in testing. He also had a big spin during first practice while Ferrari was experimenting with wing choices, which put him off his stride. However, Ferrari is looking into the issues and expects to put the car back together for Saturday’s practice. The team is also taking into account changes in track conditions and performance factors and will have a good look overnight to try and resolve the issues.
The other Red Bull driver, Sergio Perez, seems to be in a better position to take advantage of any issues Verstappen may face.
Although Perez also stated that they have work to do over one lap, he appeared more settled with the car and confident in his performance throughout the day. Perez said that they explored the car during practice and have a good idea of which direction to go for the next day. If Verstappen can’t solve his problems before qualifying, Perez could be in the perfect position to capitalize on any Red Bull intra-team issues.
Meanwhile, Ferrari and Mercedes don’t seem to be in a position to challenge Red Bull’s dominance.
Indeed, the potential for an upset in the Red Bull intra-team battle is a fascinating storyline to watch for in the early stages of the 2023 season.
After the drama that unfolded between Verstappen and Perez in the final week of the 2022 season, with Verstappen refusing team orders to assist Perez and hinting at a past grievance, the dynamics within the team will be closely scrutinized. If Verstappen continues to struggle and Perez can take advantage, it could set the tone for the rest of the season.
Bahrain GP: Verstappen Unusual Start Raises Intra-Team Upset, Perez Dark Horse Bahrain GP: Verstappen Unusual Start Raises Intra-Team Upset, Perez Dark Horse Bahrain GP: Verstappen Unusual Start Raises Intra-Team Upset, Perez Dark Horse Bahrain GP: Verstappen Unusual Start Raises Intra-Team Upset, Perez Dark Horse
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