Max Verstappen felt positive after Friday practice, and felt he got to grips with the newly resurfaced Sepang International Circuit quickly.
The Red Bull Racing driver, who was celebrating his nineteenth birthday on Friday, finished seventh in the morning session before improving to fifth in the afternoon, behind only the two Mercedes and two Ferrari drivers.
Verstappen feels that he will need to improve on his short run pace ahead of qualifying on Saturday, but is positive that they have a good measure on the long run pace that will bode will for Sunday’s sixteenth race of 2016.
“Both sessions were pretty good,” said Verstappen. “The first practice you just had to build up to it, especially with the new tarmac, you have to get to grips with the car.
“I enjoyed the new surface, it seemed to have quite a bit more grip. Before, in Malaysia, we seemed to struggle with traction but the changes they have made here appear to have helped. I also think it is a lot more fun to drive.
“Our short runs need to get a bit better but the long runs are looking strong. The pace on the soft tyre felt decent, I feel like that tyre has potential on a long run and it allowed me to throw the car into the corners like I wanted to.
“It’s hard to tell where other drivers are on the first day but Sebastian (Vettel) looks strong, so we need to improve our short run in order to be competitive.”