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Verstappen expects Bahrain F1 test to be 'completely different'

Max Verstappen has shared some more thoughts on Red Bull's start to pre-season testing and what he expects from the next session in Bahrain.

Max Verstappen says he is anticipating a very different situation to unfold when F1 testing action resumes at the Bahrain International Circuit next month, ahead of the season opener at the same location. Red Bull experienced a mixed first test in Barcelona last week, starting strongly as Verstappen racked up almost 150 laps in a day, before teammate Sergio Perez lost significant track time amid gearbox woes. On the final day of running, Perez and Verstappen posted the third and fourth fastest times respectively, slotting in behind Mercedes on the combined timesheets, with Red Bull fourth on the overall mileage charts. As such, Verstappen described the first test as "difficult to rate", but was nonetheless encouraged by his and the team's start to the pre-season. "What's positive is that the car was running smoothly [and] I'm happy with the balance," Verstappen told Formula1.com . "I just focused on doing a lot of laps and try to really nail down every single aspect of the car." However, alluding to different conditions and anticipated upgrades throughout the field, Verstappen added: "Bahrain is gonna be completely different, and also, heading into race one, the car will be different as well."

Verstappen: Lap times will only matter in Q3 in Bahrain

Expanding on his first impressions of the new RB18, Verstappen explained that "everything was working well" up to this point. "The car runs really well. In general, the weight is a bit up, but I really enjoy driving the car," he went on to comment, amid F1's rules reset for 2022. "It has a nice, stable balance and I think [the new cars] look cool as well – that's always nice to jump into. "Of course, there were quite a few red flags [on Friday], so we couldn't complete our whole programme. But everything was working well [and] the car felt good. "It just continued from what I did on day one. I think that was the most important objective for [us in] Barcelona." As for where Red Bull might stand relative to the competition, Verstappen said: "I don't know. I don't really pay attention to the lap times yet; we'll look into that in Q3 in Bahrain!" Red Bull and the rest of the F1 teams will be back in action at the Bahrain test from 10-12 March, with the paddock staying put for the season opener a week later.

RESULTS 2024 F1 Monaco Grand Prix - Qualifying