Max Verstappen has hailed Red Bull’s “very positive” start to Formula 1 pre-season testing in Bahrain as he revealed his first proper impressions of the RB16B.

The Dutchman had a productive day as he topped the timesheets on day one of the pre-season test at the Bahrain International Circuit on Friday, and he will get a second extensive run behind the wheel of the team’s updated 2021 challenger on Sunday afternoon.

Red Bull has enjoyed a strong opening two-and-a-half days of running in Bahrain so far but Verstappen stressed it was a “bit too early” to suggest the Milton Keynes squad heads into the new season in a better shape than previous years.

“At the end of the day, it’s a test,” Verstappen said. “The amount of times that Mercedes has topped testing in the last few years is not that high. It doesn’t really say a lot about pure performance. For us it’s just all about gathering a lot of data.

“I think what the most important thing was just to get a lot of laps on the board and understand the car, what you want to do with the set-up, and try things on the car as well.

“I have to say they were all responding like we would have hoped so I think that was very positive.”

Red Bull’s RB16 was considered to be a notoriously tricky car to drive in 2020 and Verstappen suggested the team has taken a step forward with the new rear-end on its updated RB16B successor.

“From my side I mean it’s never good enough but it was stable enough to feel comfortable in the car,” Verstappen explained. “It was all good. Yeah there are of course things that can be done better so it’s what we’ll focus on when I’m in the car in the afternoon.

“It’s not about taking the fuel out and trying to do a Q3 run or whatever. You know more or less what you want to do and what you want to get from the car that’s the most important,” he added.

“I think you always want to improve in every area, it’s never good enough, so we just look into every area where we can improve and there is nothing shocking at the moment.”

Verstappen downplayed the notion of Red Bull being the early favourites in 2021 despite Mercedes’ most troubled pre-season test for some years.

“I don’t think we are the favourites if Mercedes wins that many championships in a row,” he insisted. “So I think it is still the same as before we came to the test, so yeah not much more to add.”

 

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