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Verstappen pleased by “smooth day” after quickest lap and highest mileage · RaceFans

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen was the only driver to complete a full day of running as testing for the new season began in Bahrain, and was encouraged by his car’s reliability.

He covered 158 laps for Red Bull, the most of any team, and close to three grand prix distances as Verstappen acknowledged.

“We had a good day today, we completed a lot of laps which is what we wanted,” said Verstappen. “It was also a smooth day; we barely had any issues and we could really focus on the car and try a few things.

“We had a lot of good running throughout the day when it was hot and sunny and also in the evening which is more representative.”

Red Bull’s new RB19 appeared in public for the first time as testing began. “It’s nice to see how the car has evolved from last year,” said Verstappen, who indicated he wasn’t entirely satisfied with its balance yet. “The behaviour is a bit different because of the tyres but otherwise, we are happy,” he said.

Verstappen also set the quickest time of the day, but cautioned against drawing any early conclusions over the team’s competitiveness. “It’s difficult to tell how the car will perform this season through one day of testing, the car is running well and that’s the most important thing.”

With team mate Sergio Perez due to drive a full day in the car on Saturday, Verstappen will complete his pre-season test programme tomorrow. “We’ll be trying out different compounds and seeing what else we can learn before the race next week.”

Red Bull’s head of race engineering Gianpiero Lambiase said the team ran “without major reliability concerns” on Thursday.

“Everyone’s hard work over the winter has really paid off as the car hit the ground running in terms of balance, and we were able to concentrate on testing various broader aerodynamic and mechanical configurations to better understand the new platform as well as the subtlety modified tyre construction.

“We will continue to focus on ourselves and ensure we are as prepared for the first race as we can be by following a similar method over the next two days.”

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