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Max Verstappen

The big question on Verstappen's mind after Friday practice

Max Verstappen is wary of F1 teams' respective performances after finishing as the fastest man during practice in Bahrain on Friday.

Verstappen Bahrain
Article
To news overview © RN365/Michael Potts

Max Verstappen isn't putting much stock in the respective finishing positions of Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes after Friday's practice sessions in Bahrain.

While the reigning World Champion finished as the fastest driver, less than a tenth clear of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, he was six-tenths up on the quickest Mercedes, as George Russell placed in sixth.

Mercedes registered the 17th and 20th slowest speeds through the Bahrain speed trap, meaning Verstappen is convinced the ultimate performance of all the teams hasn't yet been seen.

Verstappen intrigued by engine modes

While engine mode changes for performance are banned once qualifying begins, the Dutch driver suspects these may be playing a part in the gap in performance back to Mercedes.

"We have to wait and see the engine modes tomorrow, from all the teams, in order to see where we are," Verstappen commented.

"I think everyone is still not like in 'quali-spec', so we have to wait and see tomorrow, when everyone is turning their engines up fully, [just] how much is really in it. But it's looking good.

"Basically, whatever happens in the short runs, you try to then correct a little bit in the long run. The car was doing all of it, so [I'm] very pleased.

"We can see Ferrari is pushing hard and they're very close, but that's really exciting as well."

Why was Perez off the pace in the other Red Bull?

While Verstappen led the way in second practice, teammate Sergio Perez finished a quiet seventh, a second off the pace.

But Red Bull team boss Christian Horner explained that there was a pre-determined programme in place that meant Perez was never likely to finish at the very front.

"He was trying a couple of different things on his car," Horner told Sky Sports F1.

"So, of course, when you're limited in time, [with] just two hours running with such a new car, you diverge with the setups to try and gain as much data as you can.

"Both aerodynamically and mechanically, we're just trying a couple of different things."

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Ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, F1 journalists Dieter Rencken, Mike Seymour and Thomas Maher preview the 2022 season.

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