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Verstappen hails ‘very positive test’ for Red Bull as he gives verdict on RB20

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 23: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing talks

Max Verstappen ended pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit on a positive note, with the Dutchman pleased with what Red Bull achieved despite not claiming the top spot of the timesheets on the final day of action.

After Sergio Perez ran over a drain cover in the first hour of running on Friday, the red flags were thrown to allow for track repairs. Upon resumption the session ran until the end of the day without a break for lunch, with Verstappen taking over at the wheel of the RB20 for the second half of the day.

READ MORE: Leclerc ends Day 3 of pre-season testing on top as the action concludes in Bahrain

While Charles Leclerc ended the three-day test on top with a lap of 1m 30.322s, Verstappen was fourth on the timesheets but was left satisfied after completing a total of 66 laps throughout the day.

“Today we made the plan to not focus on pure lap time,” Verstappen explained following the completion of the test. “I think it was more important just to get the long running done and then get a bit more of an understanding of the car, so we focused on that programme and to be honest I think it all looked quite positive.

“[I’m] quite happy with the car, how it was behaving, and then when we head into the race weekend it’s about fine-tuning the balance around the circumstances that you face throughout that weekend.”

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 23: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull

Verstappen ended the third and final day of pre-season testing in fourth place on the timesheets

Off the back of their dominant campaign in 2023, Red Bull have been touted by many in the paddock as favourites following a seemingly successful outing in testing.

When quizzed on whether this is the feeling within the team – as well as being asked about who he views as their main threats – Verstappen responded: “I don’t really think about that. I just look at what we are doing here.

READ MORE: Perez says field ‘a lot closer than people think’ as he reveals shock at Red Bull’s RB20 concept

“I think there’s of course always a lot of work to do – you always want to do better, but I think we had a very positive test and we learned a lot from every single thing that we changed on the car, and we also know what we want to do for next week, and that’s what we’ll focus on.”

Verstappen believes that only “time will tell” if the RB20 proves to be as successful across a wide range of tracks as its predecessor, which only appeared to endure a weaker showing at Singapore’s Marina Bay Street Circuit.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 23: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing

Verstappen was left feeling positive about what Red Bull achieved during the test in Bahrain

The team have opted for a change in concept for this year’s car, which may have come as a surprise to some given their level of performance with the RB19. Verstappen was not concerned by the different direction, though, with the world champion stating that he has belief in what Adrian Newey and the technical team have come up with.

“Honestly, I trust everyone in the team that they know what they are doing, so I don’t care how they design the car as long as it’s faster,” Verstappen concluded. “Of course it’s always quite interesting what they come up with every single time, and it looks nice.

READ MORE: Red Bull ‘got the answers we needed to’ after first day of 2024 testing for Verstappen

“For the rest, I’m not an engineer. I’m here to do my job in the car and they are here to do their job building the car and preparing it. I think so far everything that we hoped for worked very well, and that’s always a little bit of a question mark when you get to the real track, but I have to say [in] the last few years already I think that has been a good strength of ours.”

With pre-season testing now complete, the 2024 season begins in earnest next week when the Bahrain Grand Prix takes place from February 29-March 2.

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