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Max Verstappen Sets Dominant Pace as Red Bull Impresses on Day One of F1 Pre-Season Testing

Manama, February 21, 2024, The Europe Today: Triple Formula One world champion Max Verstappen signaled Red Bull’s formidable intent on the first day of pre-season testing in Bahrain, setting an impressive pace that reaffirmed the team’s prowess.

The Dutch driver, who clinched his third Formula One world championship title last season, showcased his prowess as he dominated the track, completing an astounding 143 laps – equivalent to two race distances. Verstappen’s performance left him 1.140 seconds ahead of his closest rival, Lando Norris of McLaren, under the evening floodlights.

Verstappen’s best lap time of 1 minute 31.344 seconds underscored the sheer speed of the new Red Bull, already appearing a significant improvement from the previous season’s RB19. The comparison with last year’s opening day best lap at the same circuit highlighted the advancements, with Verstappen outpacing the 2023 mark of 1:32.837.

Reflecting on the day, Verstappen expressed his satisfaction, saying, “It feels good to be back in an F1 car again, and I had fun out on track today. We covered a lot of laps and tried quite a few things with the car, which was important, so happy overall with how it went. After the winter break, the first few laps always surprise you a little, but then you get back into the swing of things pretty quickly.”

The morning session saw Verstappen continue his dominance, topping the timesheets with a lap time of 1:32.548, completing 65 laps without any issues.

While Verstappen demonstrated business as usual on the track, there was a sense of uncertainty surrounding Red Bull’s team boss, Christian Horner, who is currently facing allegations of inappropriate behavior by a female employee. Horner, present at the Sakhir test, has denied the allegations.

Gianpiero Lambiase, Verstappen’s race engineer, commented on the day’s testing, saying, “We came to Bahrain with a few unknowns around a relatively new car, but we have tested most of the fundamentals on day one and got the answers we needed to.”

As the pre-season testing continues, all eyes are on Red Bull and Max Verstappen, who have set an early benchmark for their competitors in the upcoming Formula One season.