Red Bull topped the timing sheets on the first day of pre-season testing in Bahrain, starting their account with the RB19 in a commanding fashion.
The Austrian squad completed more laps than anyone, with the RB19 going through an extensive program without experiencing any notable faults.
Whilst this does not mean Red Bull’s 2023 machine is without weaknesses, today was a very encouraging start for the team.
Considering that Red Bull heads into this season with a notable advantage over its rivals – alongside a proven aerodynamic concept – there are many reasons to be optimistic.
Helmut Marko made no secret of his satisfaction with how efficiently the first day of testing was conducted, although he refused to rule out Ferrari and Mercedes:
“Everything worked right away. For now, we are very happy. I think we are in better shape at the moment than last year at this time”, telegraaf.nl quote Marko as saying.
“It will be closer together this year. They both still have their problems, but with their experience, I expect them to solve that.
“I am surprised that the Ferrari car is still bouncing like that; we did not expect that. And the Mercedes still looks a bit restless. Anyway – it is only the first of testing.”
The primary objective of pre-season testing is always to accumulate the most laps possible, so Red Bull has reached its targets in this regard.
Helmut Marko also praised Max Verstappen’s contributions, with the Dutchman setting laps relentlessly for the team throughout both sessions.
After all, testing is just as important for the drivers as the teams – especially given the limited time to adjust to the new F1 cars.
Verstappen has developed tremendous consistency over the last few seasons, which Red Bull will hope to benefit from again this season.
Sergio Perez, who was open about his struggles last year, will have the opportunity to drive the RB19 tomorrow and Saturday.
Mercedes and Ferrari should never be written off, but if Red Bull’s 2023 machine has the potential to fight for the Championship – the team is well on its way to maximizing it.
There is always an element of uncertainty before a new season begins, but there is a sense of assurance in the Red Bull camp.
The team has introduced notable – although not revolutionary – changes to this year’s car, confident they can compete for the title at their current trajectory.
In any case, like the rest of the field, the reigning World Champions will be hard at work to further optimize their package.