Sergio Perez accepts he still has work to do on his short run pace after ending both practice sessions for the Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix over half a second behind Max Verstappen.
Perez was making his debut with Red Bull Racing on Friday and initially looked like he could match the pace of his teammate Verstappen and both Mercedes cars of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
However, as both sessions went on and drivers improved their times, Perez failed to find the additional time required to keep in touch with the fastest times.
And speaking after free practice two on Friday, the 31-year-old accepted that he needed to do more work on his short run pace as he didn’t feel entirely comfortable with the car.
“It feels great to finally get into a race weekend and I’m pleased so far with how things are going.” commented Perez.
“If I were to summarize today, I’ve got some work to do on the short runs as over one lap I don’t quite feel the car is within me just yet and I still have to think about what the car is doing, but in the long runs I’m more comfortable and I think the pace is there so that’s positive.
“I think we have some work to do on the soft tyre as there is also room for improvement there, but the car is performing well, we have good pace and tomorrow it will be pretty close in qualifying so we need to make sure we get it right and have a good start to the season.”
Although Perez struggled to get the maximum potential out of his RB16B, his teammate Max Vertsappen had the perfect day, topping the timesheet in both sessions.
But, although he was the fastest driver, Verstappen was also slightly unhappy with the balance of the car and feels further work needs to be done to optimise the setup for Saturday.
“It’s been a good day again and with the heat and the wind it is not easy to find a perfect balance around the whole lap but overall I would say it was a positive day.” added Verstappen.
“There are still things to improve and look into for tomorrow, tyre wise and a bit of balance tuning, plus I think it will be even more windy which is a challenge for everyone in these cars.
“I am pretty happy with the start of the weekend but tomorrow is a different day and we have to see whether we can do it in qualifying when it counts.”