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Red Bull 'confident' about title after Verstappen's flying start

Max Verstappen completed the most amount of laps out of everyone on the opening day of Bahrain pre-season testing.

Max Verstappen set an ominous benchmark for the competition, after completing 157 laps at the end of the first day of Bahrain pre-season testing. The Dutchman's effort translates to 527.991 miles covered around the Bahrain International Circuit, with it being the most laps completed for a single team - the second closest was Mercedes at 152 laps completed between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell. Red Bull Advisor Helmut Marko was pleased with how smoothly things ran, as it appeared as though the team was in a more competitive place that it was last year. "We have seen a very good outing from our team. Everything was working straight away, it didn't have any major problems," Marko told media, including RacingNews365.com. "Every lap we are achieving some improvements, so far we are really happy and indeed we are more competitive than we were last year to start off."

Marko: Championship will be closer

Coming into this season Red Bull has a handicap on their wind tunnel usage, partly owing to their status as Constructors' Champions, which means they have to bring upgrades to the car which work out of the box according to Marko. "It's a handicap but our engineers are [working] knowing that they are restricted," he explained. "What we are doing and what we are bringing [to the track] has more or less to work. There's no room for experiments or risk. Everything is working fine and we think after the first major upgrade, in race four, we should still be competitive." Given that the championship will be closer with main rivals Ferrari and Mercedes in 2023, Marko says the team is still "confident" about their chances of defending their titles. "I think we are in a good shape but I believe it will be tighter compared to last year, our main competitors [are] as usual Ferrari and Mercedes," he added. "We have seen both of them have smaller problems, but I'm sure with all their experience they will sorted it out. "Then in the end we believe in Max who is still improving, is nursing the tyres even more, so we look really confident for the championship."

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