Max Verstappen has said that his new Red Bull RB16 “feels faster everywhere” after a successful first day of pre-season testing in Barcelona.
Verstappen ended the first day of testing fourth fastest, setting a best time of 1m17.516s, and set more laps than any other driver, completing 168 tours of the Catalunya circuit.
Although the Red Bull driver was half a second slower than the benchmark set by the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, times in testing are notoriously unreliable when it comes to determining the actual pace of a car, and Verstappen was happy with the progress his team has made over the winter, and believes the RB16 feels faster than its predecessor.
Speaking after his first real taste of the RB16, Verstappen said: “It’s been a good day. It’s always important to do as many laps as possible and today was a really good example of how you should do it, so I’m very happy.
“We have improved the car in the areas we wanted to over the winter and the car feels faster everywhere, which is great.
“The reliability has been good so far, so now we just have to do a lot more laps, test all the new parts and see where we can improve it further. Hopefully we’ll have done enough!”
Pre-season testing has been condensed to six days from the eight that were held last year, and teams are having to get through their programmes as quickly as possible.
As a result, it means that all of the teams will need to maximise their track time and Head of Race Engineering Guillaume Rocquelin confirmed that Red Bull are having to conduct more long runs than normal as a result.
“We have a compressed test schedule this year so we are focusing on slightly longer runs than normal to get what we need from testing.” added Rocquelin.
“It’s not always easy, as the conditions in Barcelona at this time of year are never ideal – it is just a bit cold – and the track surface is not really representative, but we got through the whole plan and more today, which is very encouraging.
“We’ll ramp things up again with Alex tomorrow, but all in all, a very positive start for us.”