World Champion Max Verstappen started the 2022 season the same way he ended it in 2021, on top. The Dutchman ended the opening day of the Bahrain Grand Prix as fastest, but it wasn’t the usual suspects close behind at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Verstappen enjoyed a smooth opening day, the World Champion was fifth after the first session before claiming his top spot in the afternoon, where conditions were similar to what they will be for Qualifying on Saturday. His best time was a 1:31.936, with both Scuderia Ferrari’s close behind.
Verstappen is happy with how the weekend has started, he does predict though that the true pace of each team is still unknown.
“The car felt good today, testing here last week means we’ve all started in a good place. We had quite a straightforward and smooth day so I’m pretty happy, we also tried a few things on the car in each session and they seemed to work well. You can see that Ferrari are pushing hard and are very close so that’s exciting.
“Looking ahead, we’ll have to wait and see with different teams’ engine modes, no one is in quali spec yet so I think everyone still has a lot more to give. It’s good to see the teams are all closer together, in general that’s what everyone wants and I think over time teams will get even closer together.”
“The pack is really close” – Sergio Pérez
Sergio Pérez didn’t have quite as good an opening day as his team-mate, the Mexican has plenty of time to find on Saturday after ending Friday as seventh fastest.
The best the Mexican could salvage on the opening day at Bahrain was a 1:32.958, incredibly a whole second behind his team-mate.
Pérez enjoyed being back out on track but he does recognise that he has work to do on Saturday to move further up the grid.
“It’s nice to be back out on track for a new season. We have some work to do overnight to find a good compromise with the set up. We tried some different settings across the two cars, so I think we have good data to look at and then we can pick out the best bits for qualifying tomorrow.
“We are learning a lot about the tyre degradation and overall, there is some work to do but I am hopeful we will have a positive day tomorrow. FP2 will be the most useful session before qualifying because the conditions should be similar and I think it will be interesting to see where everyone is come Saturday evening. The pack is really close and I think the race will be even tighter so there will be some good racing all around.”