The F1 opening day in Bahrain did not go smoothly for Max Verstappen. The reigning champion clearly had start-up problems with his Red Bull and he also failed to meet the time of the surprising Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin.
Fernando Alonso in Bahrain
Still, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko expects the Dutchman to conquer pole position on Saturday. After the second free practice, Marko was asked if Max Verstappen is still the favorite for pole and race win after Alonso’s strong performance? “In the long runs, Max was by far the fastest, and I think he was,” said the Austrian, who saw his pupil finish the day second.
Verstappen started the hot day in the desert with an RB-19 that had a lot of understeer. During the second practice session, the Dutchman had more grip again. So it became a day with two faces. “During the first free practice we couldn’t find the right balance in the car,” said Verstappen. “That was a bit strange, because during the test days we didn’t have any problems with that. During the second free practice qualifying laps were not bad and the handling of the car was better. In the long runs, the car is not bad at all.”
Not Ferrari and Mercedes seem to be Red Bull’s main competitors after the first day, but the green cars from Aston Martin. Free bets on a successful season for Aston Martin might be worth a punt for the true gamblers. Helmut Marko thinks the English team is number two behind his Red Bull. Verstappen added: “The Aston Martins look competitive, you noticed that during the tests. We still have some work to do. We know we have a competitive car, now it’s just a matter of putting the puzzle pieces together.”