Max Verstappen has been pleased with the pace that both he and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing have shown in the early stages of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend.
Verstappen finished both Free Practice sessions in fifth, proving to be near the pace of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport and Scuderia Ferrari duos in the afternoon’s Qualifying simulations, three tenths shy of Lewis Hamilton‘s session best time of 1 minute 33.482 seconds.
“We spent a bit of time during the first session today working on the setup of the car in order to understand it better,” said Verstappen, who suffered an excursion into the gravel trap at Turn 16 – a corner subject to high winds in the morning.
“By the end of the day the pace was looking good.”
The Dutchman noted his relief in having not been subject to the reliability problems that plagued Red Bull’s Bahrain weekend, saying that the former world champions “don’t look too far off.”
“I think we can be happy with the car’s performance,” he added. “It’s always good to finish a day’s running with no major problems and we don’t look too far off.”
Verstappen also said that the light rain that came late in Free Practice 2 did not harm Red Bull’s programme for the day, believing that the RB14‘s long run pace is promising. However, the 20-year-old sees that the team still need a little improvement on their one-lap speed.
“We just managed to fit in a longer stint before the rain came towards the end of the second session,” he said. “So we didn’t feel the need to stay out.
“The long runs were once again very positive and I felt pretty comfortable. A little bit of fine tuning on the short runs to get the balance better and we should be alright.”
Verstappen claimed an incredible podium in changing conditions at the Shanghai International Circuit last year after starting from sixteenth on the grid, passing nine cars on the opening lap.
“This track is good for overtaking anyway, so I think we can have a good race judging by our pace.”