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Max Verstappen

Verstappen claims rivals 'turned engines up' in puzzling FP2

The Dutchman finished sixth fastest in second practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Verstappen Red Bull Bahrein
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To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen has conceded he is yet to find the "sweet spot" with the Red Bull RB20 after failing to top either practice session on day one of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Milton Keynes-based outfit had been expected to dominate along with the Dutchman following last season and the pre-season test and while that may still happen in qualifying and the race, Verstappen ended almost half a tenth down on Lewis Hamilton's fastest time for Mercedes in second practice at the Bahrain International Circuit.

With Verstappen in sixth, qualifying has seemingly been blown wide open but Verstappen insisted his day was "not too bad".

"It is very close," said the three-time World Champion.

"Maybe some people around us have already turned up the engine a little bit but we just focus on ourselves.

"There were a few little balance issues from front to rear but nothing big, it is just about trying to find that sweet spot.

"Especially around here with the rough tarmac, once you get it into that sweet spot you just pick up time. That's what we will try to focus on."

Having set blistering times during race simulations, Verstappen insisted Red Bull was "not too far away" from the sweet spot and added: "It is just trying to get into it and feel a bit happier with the car.

"But at the end of the day, you just want to focus a bit on the long run because that's where the car really needs to work."

No concerns for Verstappen

Both Mercedes, Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso, Ferrari's Carlos Sainz and McLaren's Oscar Piastri all finished above Verstappen and asked to elaborate on his suggestion engines had been turned up for his rivals, he clarified: "I don't say that everyone around us did that but a few did.

"So I am not too worried about the gap to P1, for example, but I think it is going to be very close in qualifying which will be very nice.

"The long run, I was a bit happier about that, but there are things we can do better."

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