Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023

Verstappen relieved to take pole after “big shock” of practice setback

2023 Bahrain Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Bahrain Grand Prix pole winner Max Verstappen says he is relieved to have taken pole after describing the handling of his Red Bull in practice as a “big shock”.

Verstappen led a Red Bull front row lock-out in the first qualifying session of the year, just over a tenth of a second quicker than team mate Sergio Perez and almost three tenths faster than the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr.

After admitting to being dissatisfied with the handling of his Red Bull in practice yesterday, Verstappen said he was “positively surprised” to be on pole after having difficulties with balance in the practice sessions.

“After testing I was very happy and then I jumped in the car and FP1 and it was a big shock,” Verstappen told media including RaceFans in the press conference after today’s qualifying session. “I just couldn’t get the balance right through all the practice sessions.

“Luckily in qualifying I think we managed to put the best pieces together and of course very happy to be on pole. Also for the whole team, coming off last year, having such a strong car with Checo [Perez] up there as well. It’s amazing and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Verstappen says the team must investigate the cause of the why his car’s balance appeared to change so much between testing and the first two days of practice this weekend.

“We just need to analyse everything what got onto the car for the race weekend,” he said. “Even if it’s the same part but new, just to check everything for next weekend again.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Having secured pole position, Verstappen hopes that Red Bull’s race pace will prove as strong as it has appeared leading up to this point in the weekend.

“That should normally be our stronger point than the one lap pace,” he said. “So hopefully we can show that again tomorrow.”

Verstappen says he is pleased to see the grid appearing to be closer and more competitive than it was last season.

“I think compared to last year, everyone knows a bit more what they are doing with the car,” he explained. “So naturally, I think you already start off better and more competitive.

“And then the other changes I think slowed down the car a bit, but we are still going faster. So that’s of course a great thing to see. And I think again throughout the year you will see that everyone is increasing their performance again a lot and that’s the beautiful thing about Formula 1.”

Bringing the F1 news from the source

RaceFans strives to bring its readers news directly from the key players in Formula 1. We are able to do this thanks in part to the generous backing of our RaceFans Supporters.

By contributing £1 per month or £12 per year (or the equivalent in other currencies) you can help cover the costs involved in producing original journalism: Travelling, writing, creating, hosting, contacting and developing.

We have been proudly supported by our readers for over 10 years. If you enjoy our independent coverage, please consider becoming a RaceFans Supporter today. As a bonus, all our Supporters can also browse the site ad-free. Sign up or find out more via the links below:

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 Bahrain Grand Prix

Browse all 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix articles

Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.