Red Bull was the most impressive team at pre-season testing in Bahrain. Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez clocked a number of laps and also topped the time sheets rather comfortably amidst struggles for Mercedes.
While Perez did enjoy a comfortable outing, he is not fully convinced he has got to full grips with the RB16B. The Mexican driver is unsure he will be competitive enough come the opening race of the season.
He said that it may take him at least five races to fully understand the car and felt a big part of this was due to a shortened pre-season.
“We did not have a lot of time. It’s been definitely the shortest pre-season I’ve done in my career,” he said.
“I still have a lot of things to learn in the car, to get the maximum out of it. But the best I can do is just to be patient, and take the first races as they come.
“It’s hard to think – after five races, once we go through very different races, different conditions, you understand the car, the team, a lot better. Five races, proper races, should be good.”
This would come as bad news for Red Bull fans as the team looks to give Mercedes a real run for its money this season.
Last year’s aerodynamic issues have been dealt with quite well, according to Perez. He said the car was not all that difficult to contend with in Bahrain.
“I’ve driven in very difficult conditions with the wind around Bahrain. I’m pleased with where the car is, I think there is definitely good potential in it,” he said.
“There’s obviously good areas to focus on, to try to improve them. But the overall picture, it’s a positive one.”
It will be a big blow to Red Bull if he does not hit the ground running early in the season.
This is the period that the team has traditionally struggled in and Perez had been recruited predominantly to offer Verstappen greater support than some previous drivers.
Red Bull will hope that his time at the team is more productive that the likes of Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon.