Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says the pace shown by Formula 1 rivals Mercedes during Friday practice for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix was “impressive”. 

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton set the pace on the first day of competitive running in 2019 and topped both sessions in Melbourne, with the five-time reigning world champion ending up eight tenths clear of Red Bull in FP2. 

With Red Bull and Ferrari seemingly yet to show their true pace, Horner was left impressed by Mercedes’ headline-grabbing times, while he felt Ferrari had “underdelivered” after looking particularly strong during pre-season testing. 

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“Mercedes looked quick in that second session, the times that both their drivers turned out looked pretty quick,” Horner told Sky Sports. 

“Ferrari look like they underdelivered to what we thought they had in testing and our guys both had pretty decent runs. 

“Max got quite a bit of traffic on his fast laps so I think there’s quite a bit of potential there, there’s more set up changes to come and we don’t know what fuel loads people are running but looks interesting. 

“On the long runs we look pretty sensible and I think the one lap pace of the Mercedes in that session looked pretty impressive, but the car looks stiff and difficult to drive so whether that’s sustainable for a grand prix I don’t know.” 

Verstappen and teammate Pierre Gasly were third and fourth quickest after the qualifying simulation runs in the afternoon, one tenth clear of the fastest Ferrari driven by Sebastian Vettel

Asked if he felt Red Bull was really quicker than Ferrari, Verstappen replied: “I don't know, we'll find out tomorrow, but we can only look at ourselves. 

“We for sure have some things to improve, but I think everyone has, it's the first day, you start here. It's been alright. 

“The Mercedes looks very quick. We've got lots of work to do and for sure we'll analyse a lot.

“I think in general the car felt alright,” he added. “From the engine side, no problems. They just went very smoothly and things were good.” 



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