Max Verstappen’s verdict on the chasing pack after dominant F1 win

Max Verstappen has given his opinion on Red Bull's nearest rivals following the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB20 in the post race FIA Press Conference. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 1,
Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB20 in the post race FIA Press…

Max Verstappen insists “other teams are closer” to Red Bull despite his dominant victory at the F1 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Red Bull’s three-time world champion delivered a crushing statement to his rivals by romping to a convincing win in Bahrain to make the perfect start to his F1 title defence.

Verstappen led home teammate Sergio Perez by 22.457 seconds and finished 25s clear of the first non-Red Bull car, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

The nearest Mercedes of George Russell was 46.788s adrift of Verstappen at the end of the 57-lap race.

Despite his commanding margin of victory, Verstappen believes Red Bull’s rivals are closer than they were in 2023.

"I also think that in general, other teams are closer,” Verstappen said.

“I just think that today, everything just worked really, really well. And I of course don't expect that to happen in every single Grand Prix in the coming, in the near future.

“So still, we take it, we look back at it, of course, we analyse it, and we'll try to improve further.”

After qualifying, Russell had suggested Red Bull would have at least half a second a lap in hand in race pace.

“I don't know how they [Mercedes] approach their long runs, you know, with fuel loads and whatever,” Verstappen said.

“But from our side, it was definitely not expected to be half a second ahead, for sure not. But yeah, it was probably a bit better than I thought today.”

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB20. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Sakhir, Bahrain, Race
Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB20. Formula 1 World Championship,…

And Verstappen does not expect Red Bull to be as dominant at next weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

“It's a completely different track layout, with a lot more high-speed corners,” Verstappen added.

“The tarmac, of course, is completely different to what it is here, so less degradation. Naturally, probably that will help other teams as well, compared to us.

“It seems like for us always, it's better to have these kinds of tracks. So I don't expect that to be easy.”

Asked if he is expecting a straightforward season ahead, Verstappen, who won 19 of the 22 races in 2023, replied: “Well, I don't really think about that.

“You know, I go race by race because there are so many different scenarios. And this is a very particular track as well. Probably one of our strongest anyway.

“So I don't want to think about these kinds of things yet. I just want to now focus on what to improve from this race onwards and then look at Jeddah, how we prepare there. But I'm not looking ahead too much.”

Read More