Max Verstappen felt the RB19 in F1 Bahrain GP like what he had during testing, as Christian Horner notes plan always was to run two stints on soft.

It was a great start for Red Bull in F1 Bahrain GP after a 1-2 in qualifying was followed by 1-2 in the race despite Sergio Perez losing out second at the start. Even though they got the dominant result, they did not have it all their own way over the weekend.

Both on Friday and Saturday, there were rumours of balance issues with Verstappen and Perez not feeling the car to be the same as it was in testing. The car did come alive in qualifying but Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was close to them despite not running the final lap.

In the race though, Verstappen came alive as he felt that the RB19 was to what he felt like when driving in test. There were some teething issues, but those were not enough to cause any troubles. They even ran a strategy that no one tried in the Top 10.

Having ran the hard tyres in practice, they went for a soft-soft-hard strategy, when most used two sets of hard. Ferrari admitted that this strategy was something that they wouldn’t have done as they were already having issues with the soft-hard-hard strategy.

For Red Bull, it wasn’t much of an issue as they showed the pace they had on a track layout like Bahrain. It is an ominous sign as there are those who reckon 2023 could be a long season for the other nine teams if they continue to push on.

Race, pit-stops –

Verstappen: “I mean, it was a really good race. I do think it was important to have that first stint where I could open up a gap a little bit and after that I could look after my tyres quite well. But also the car was working well – a bit like what we’ve seen in testing and the long runs we’ve done throughout the weekend. But you still of course need to show that in the race. You never know really what can happen to you throughout the race. But yeah, we were on top of things. And it was quite straightforward. But yeah, I think also, with all the calls and pit stops, we did a good job.”

Double DNF in 2022 but 1-2 in 2023 –

Verstappen: “Last year was very disappointing, of course. That normally was a P2. I do think our mentality also has changed a bit compared to a few years ago, in terms of how we are operating and how we are developing a car. And yeah, it’s great to finally have a car which is able to win from the start. And it also helps the car’s not so overweight. It’s perfectly fine now. But yeah, this is a great start but we also know that throughout the season you have to keep on developing. Of course, we are on that, but we hope of course that’s going to be more than the other teams because you have to try and keep that advantage going.”

Car balance in practice, qualifying vs balance on race day –

Verstappen: “Yeah, but you know, in the long run, you anyway have quite a different car, and you never really are able to push to the limit. So naturally, that was less of an issue anyway, when I was already not happy in the beginning of the weekend. But I do think that there are still a few things that need to be looked at. But for now, we’re happy. And then tomorrow, once we get back home, we’ll get on top of everything before we get to Jeddah.”

Rears locking during race, other minor issues –

Verstappen: “It happens here and there. I mean, this is not something new. This has happened also in the last year or two years. This is something we are consistently working on and trying to make better. But yeah, I think overall, nothing too big of a concern.”

Nerves, issues –

Christian Horner: “I think the first race of the season there is always an element of nerves because it is the first time we are running two cars and there are so many things that can go wrong. It was a phenomenal performance by the whole team back at base to provide a competitive car like we’ve got to start here. We focused on the race more than quali and that paid its dividends today so we were able to run on the softer compound, particularly in the middle part of the race, and still have the durability so it was a well-executed grand prix and after last year coming away with zero points to have 43 on the board it feels like a good response.”

Strategy with double soft stint –

Horner: “We discussed many different scenarios but I think both drivers were particularly happy on the soft tyre and we brought a lot of soft tyres into the race so it seemed unfair not to use them. That is what we did and we only had one set of hard tyres so we didn’t want to expose ourselves had there been a safety car around half distance.”

Here’s Max Verstappen post his win:

Here’s how F1 Bahrain GP panned out