Red Bull Racing concluded their pre-season testing programme on Sunday, with Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez both taking turns at the top of the timing screens.
Pérez drove during the morning session at the Bahrain International Circuit, completing forty-nine laps, with his best time of 1:30.187 good enough to see him end the opening four hours on top.
The one-time race winner says it feels ‘crazy’ to have completed his first test programme as a Red Bull driver, and now the excitement is now rising as he prepares for the first race of the season at the same venue at the end of the month.
“It’s crazy to think that pre-season has already finished, it feels like it only just started,” said Pérez. “I think this is the shortest pre-season ever in my career!
“There’s a very limited amount of running and testing but we managed to work through a lot of set-up options and are improving every time we get into the car.”
Pérez says there is a feeling that the RB16B is a competitive car, but he still feels there is a lot for him to learn about it before the start of the season.
“I’m very excited about the season and I think we’ve got a good car underneath us but I still have a lot to learn in the car to get the maximum out of it,” said the Mexican. “The Team is doing a fantastic job.
“It doesn’t really matter where we start in Bahrain, it matters where we finish in Abu Dhabi. Now we just want to look forward to the race weekend. We’re going to take it step by step and be patient in the beginning and then things will come to us.”
“I think we can say it has been a good weekend” – Max Verstappen
Team-mate Verstappen took over for the afternoon session and set the best time of the whole test with a 1:28.960 as he took to the track on softer compound tyres for some shorter runs.
He had been focusing on the medium compounds, but he was pleased to be able to complete the whole planned programme with the RB16B. However, he knows that there are no guarantees the pace shown in Bahrain will translate into a strong season for Red Bull.
“It was another good day and we got through the whole programme,” said Verstappen. “Conditions were a bit different to day one, so we had to adjust the car a bit as we went along but from our side it was very smooth, as it has been throughout the whole test.
“I think we can say it has been a good weekend but of course that doesn’t give you any guarantees and all teams are doing different programmes at testing. We always look into what we can improve and for sure there are still things we want to work on but I think all teams will have that.
“We’ll find out for sure in a couple of weeks in Q3 where we really are but in general, I would say the car feels good and I’m looking forward to going racing.”
“Today was more about trying to optimise the car” – Guillaume Rocquelin
Guillaume Rocquelin, the Head of Race Engineering at Red Bull, says Sunday’s plan was to try and optimise the performance of the RB16B ahead of the new season, with both drivers being given identical programmes across the day.
“Both sessions today were identical in terms of run plan,” said Rocquelin. “As opposed to the first couple of days, today was more about trying to optimise the car and understand where we’re going, so shorter runs, more set-up items, a bit more time in the garage.
“We were still doing some development work but also really getting the crew and the drivers up to speed in terms of procedures and pit stops. It was a similar plan for both drivers and similar results for both.”
Rocquelin says the test has been positive throughout for Red Bull, although he feels three days of testing was never going to be enough for anyone. He is looking forward to being back in Bahrain for the opening race of the season in less than two weeks time.
“Overall, this has been a positive test phase,” said Rocquelin. “Three days are never going to be enough; I don’t think anyone would say they are, but in terms of the time available, what we got out of this test was very useful.
“We’ve got a really good base to build from and we’re looking forward to coming back to Bahrain in a couple of weeks.”