Red Bull anticipate scrap with Ferrari for pole after close showing in Friday practice
Even though Ferrari topped the timesheets in both opening practice sessions at Jeddah, Red Bull have anticipated another toe-to-toe bout with the Scuderia in Saudi Arabia having also shown competitive pace in practice.
Red Bull's reigning champion Max Verstappen finished second in both opening practice sessions in Saudi Arabia, just over a tenth behind leader Charles Leclerc – who also won the season-opening Bahrain GP.
Sergio Perez on the other hand was fourth in FP2, narrowly behind Carlos Sainz, having finished seventh in FP1.
"We ran both cars on different programmes and I think we got the data we needed, so now we have some work to do tonight," explained Perez on Friday. "It was difficult to get the lap in I needed to see exactly how we will perform over one lap here because I had a lot of traffic out there.
"I think it could be another straight shootout with Ferrari on Saturday but at the moment we are focusing on ourselves and hopefully tomorrow we are able to make the steps we’d like with the car."
As for Verstappen, who was runner-up in FP1 on hard tyres as Leclerc finished fastest on softs, he said there was plenty of work to do overnight on Friday and into Saturday ahead of qualifying.
"The sessions ran quite smoothly today, we completed our programme and tried out lots of different tyre sets. It seems like Ferrari were quite competitive again, we still have a little bit of work to do to catch up with them and there’s plenty of room for improvement," said Verstappen.
"The track feels pretty much the same as last year. The barriers have moved slightly and in terms of visibility, it hasn’t made a noticeable impact. Looking ahead to qualifying, we still need to look at some data, we’ll see how it all goes tomorrow."
Leclerc leads the drivers' championship and Ferrari the constructors', while Red Bull left Bahrain without points after neither of their drivers reached the chequered flag due to reliability issues.