Q: Max, the Bahrain track is known to be a power circuit and that usually means a bit of a downside for Red Bull Racing. But surprisingly here you are closer to Mercedes and Ferrari than ever before this season. Where has that come from?
Max Verstappen: We’ve worked on the car in every little detail. We have really found things to optimise it - and it worked. I think we understood the car better here than at the previous two races and that brought us closer to Mercedes and Ferrari.
Q: You had a difficult Friday but suddenly today things looked a lot better. What happened overnight?
MV: We’ve changed the car a lot overnight and it seems to work really well. Of course FP3 doesn’t mean so much - but we’ve been really competitive. Qualifying was not too bad as well.
I felt really good in the car. But then in my last Q3 run when I was behind Lewis (Hamilton) and we both were preparing on out laps, just when I wanted to prepare into the last corner Felipe (Massa) overtook me and just stopped.
There was a big gap behind us so I thought, ‘Why did he do that?’ I had to stay in first gear all around the corner to make a gap to him and that basically ruined my qualifying lap, as I had cool tyres and a very bad exit out of that last corner and into my qualifying lap. I had understeer and that was basically it for me. It was a shame and I thought to myself that we could respect each other more to keep a reasonable gap. But that’s how it is. But other than that it was a positive qualifying.
Q: So what are your expectations for the race? Everybody dreams about a three-header race…
MV: Yes, I think we can be close to Ferrari. Mercedes is still too quick. But when it all boils down to the tyres we know that they struggle a bit more - and then this could be our chance. You never know! (Laughs)
Q: Was today an indication that you are more on top of the car than in the first two races?
MV: Yeah, definitely things work much better. Sure, there are little things on the car that we still need to decode - but the cars are still pretty new and maybe we have to learn to understand these new cars a bit more than Mercedes or Ferrari.
But we are getting there. Ferrari and Mercedes can turn up their engine in qualifying more than we can - unfortunately - but in the race we usually look a bit more competitive than in qualifying. So I start the race with the feeling that a lot is possible.