Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Bahrain International Circuit, 2024

Verstappen suspects rivals “already turned up the engine” after sixth in practice

Formula 1

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Max Verstappen was not concerned to see both Mercedes drivers well ahead of him at the end of the first day’s running in Bahrain.

The Red Bull driver was sixth quickest in the second practice session, just under half a second slower than Lewis Hamilton’s quickest time.

But Verstappen was not concerned about the performance of his new RB20 after the opening practice day in Bahrain.

“I think it was not too bad,” Verstappen told the official F1 channel. “I think it’s very close. Maybe some people around us already turned up the engine a bit, in terms of top speed. But we just focused on ourselves.

“I think today, there were a few little balance issues from front to rear, but nothing big. It’s 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’ll try to focus on a little bit more for tomorrow.”

Verstappen believes a large part of the reason why he was only sixth on the timing screen was due to his team not running their power unit to as high level of performance as some of their rivals.

“I don’t say everyone around us did that, but a few did,” he explained. “So I’m not too worried about the gap to P1, for example.

“But it’s going to be very close in qualifying. So that’s, I think, going to be very nice. And then the long run, I was a bit happier about that. But again, also there are few little things that we can do better.”

Despite being heard complaining about some of the characteristics of his car over team radio, such as its gearshifts, Verstappen insisted that he is close to finding a good window with his RB20.

“It’s not too far away, it’s just trying to get into it and feel a little bit happier with the car,” he said.

“But at the end of the day, you also just want to focus a bit on the long runs, because that’s where the car really needs to work. Of course qualifying is important, but we need to make sure that the car is in good shape for the race.

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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...

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11 comments on “Verstappen suspects rivals “already turned up the engine” after sixth in practice”

  1. Thought so, guess the same applies to RB. I have little doubt we will see all 4 Bulls in the top 10 tomorrow.

  2. You expect teams to turn up the engines for qualifying simulations. What I take from Verstappen’s comments is that (maybe) Red Bull’s engines are still turned down.

    They’re either hiding their pace, or playing mind games. Or both, because that’s how things work in Formula One.

    1. The engines can’t be turned up or down anymore per the rulebook.

      1. They can, just not after parc ferme

      2. @ppzzus They can be.

        The thing that was banned a few years ago were the special qualifying modes but they still have access to the race modes that allow them to alter the energy harvesting and deployment as well as alter the engine soft limiter & fuel mixture settings.

      3. In free pratice they can and will try different engine modes but when Qualifly starts it’s locked.
        As the other already said but i wished to be clearer with simple text :)

        1. Thank you for Macleod and others for clarifying. I was struggling to work out the details of this. Personally, I think it is a shame that they feel the need to have rules like this. They already have limits on engine changes and budget caps, each car has the same amount of fuel in the race, so limiting engine modes just takes away strategy and engineering options.

      4. Engine maps cannot be changed once parc ferme starts.

        But the power unit itself can be tuned for harvest/discharge rates, and the ICE fuel mixture, can still be changed during a race, I believe.

  3. According to the Associated Press, someone has certainly just turned up the engine.

  4. 1st race of the season and they are admitting sandbagging? give him the title already!

  5. Thing is, if Mercedes, as an example, turned up their engine performance…. why is Mercedes so surprised to be at the top of the FP2 sheet?

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