Formula 1

Max Verstappen: “I’m Incredibly proud that we have achieved this as a team”

3 Mins read
Credit: Red Bull Content Pool/Lars Baron/Getty Images

Max Verstappen picked up right where he left off in 2022 as the Dutchman secured an emphatic victory at the season opening Bahrain Grand Prix. Sergio Pérez followed his team-mate home to secure the one-two finish for Oracle Red Bull Racing, marking a perfect start to the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season for the defending champions.

After beating Pérez to pole-position on Saturday, Verstappen would make his advantage count from the get-go, the Dutchman made turn one unscathed while Pérez was left to battle it out with both of the Scuderia Ferrari drivers.

Downshifts causing rear locking on his RB19 had looked to have thrown a potential spanner in the works of a routine win, but the ever-cool Verstappen and Red Bull were able to see out the issue with little to no effect on their overall race.

Verstappen remained largely unthreatened en-route to victory, with his nearest challenger Pérez finishing eleven seconds down the road. After kickstarting his title defence in such a dominant manner, Verstappen was left delighted by his and the team’s effort across the weekend.

“This is exactly the start we wanted, a one-two finish. I’m incredibly proud that we have achieved this as a Team. I could see early on that we had the pace in the car, I was able to build a gap from the start and then just managed it for the rest of the race, it was a straightforward day for us.

Sunday’s victory at the Bahrain International Circuit marks the twenty-second different venue that Verstappen has secured himself a trip to the top step of the podium in Formula 1. A stat that the twenty-five-year-old was all too aware of as he spoke on his relief to finally claim victory in Sakhir at the tenth time of asking.

“It also feels good to finally win in Bahrain, I haven’t had the best history here,” Verstappen added.

With his title defence off to the perfect start, Verstappen is already turning his attention to the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, where he will be looking to make it back-to-back race wins at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Looking ahead to Jeddah, it’s a completely different track with different conditions, there’s a lot of long straights and fast corners, so it will give us a completely different picture of where everyone is on the grid but at least this was a very good start for us.”

Sergio Pérez: “There a lot of improvements we can still make to try and make our car better”

While on the other side of the Red Bull garage, it would prove to be the unfortunate same story for Pérez as the Mexican was simply unable to reach the heights of Verstappen at the Bahrain International Circuit.

The Red Bull driver chalked up his shortcomings down to a poor start in which he lost out to Charles Leclerc after both Ferrari’s had become embroiled in battle with him in the run into turn one.

Pérez would eventually get past the Monegasque driver on lap twenty-six but by that time Verstappen had already built up a commanding lead of over thirteen seconds.

The Red Bull driver would marginally decrease the gap between him and Verstappen, however, it would prove to be too little too late for Pérez as he settled for a second-place finish.

Speaking on where he exactly he lost the Bahrain Grand Prix, Pérez stated, “My start wasn’t ideal, Charles was a little too aggressive, pushed me to the right and I did my best to avoid him. That meant my first stint wasn’t ideal, Charles was very strong on that new tyre and it was difficult to get through him quickly enough.

I think that’s where I lost out to Max, I was behind him by about 10 or 12 seconds and after that it was game over on catching Max, it was all about getting Charles. It was important to get by him, minimise the damage and get that P2 for the Team.”

After Red Bull’s dominant start to the season many around the paddock are already suggesting that the Milton-Keynes based team will once again walk to both the Constructors and Drivers championship. However, Pérez isn’t getting ahead of himself just yet, with the thirty-three-year-old eager to see how the RB19 will react to different surfaces, climates, and track layouts across the season.

There are a lot of improvements we can still make to try and make our car better, there is still plenty of work going on behind the scenes. On this tarmac we have been very strong but Bahrain is a very unique circuit and things will be closer at other circuits.”

Credit: Red Bull Content Pool/Peter Fox/Getty Images

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