Max optimistic despite problems on final test day: 'We've got a good package'

Published on 01 March 2019 by Stefan Meens

The final day of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya marked a disappointing end to Max Verstappen’s testing campaign. After his Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team mate Pierre Gasly crashed the RB15, the team’s mechanics spend the whole night working to get their car back on to the circuit. They did so successfully, and Max gained valuable track time in the opening stages of the morning session. A gearbox problem limited the Dutchman’s running to 29 laps before the lunch break. Unfortunately, Max was unable to complete any further running in the afternoon.

Afterwards, he told “We had an issue with the gearbox. It was already a miracle we were able to make out this morning. We don’t have many parts, so they had to be brought in from England in the night. The team worked really hard to get us out on track. Unfortunately, we didn’t have many gearboxes available as two broke because of crashes.”

Despite the disappointing end to the pre-season test, Max is happy with the RB15: “Normally it’s nice to drive many laps because you always learn something. Obviously, that wasn’t great today, but in terms of pace it’s looking fairly good. Of course, you never know for sure, we didn’t have a proper go at a low-fuel run, but looking at the long runs it’s all pretty close between the top three. We can be pleased with that.”

Regarding his prospects for the 2019 season, Max appears positive. “It’s a long season and a lot can happen, as we saw last year. Last year, the championship was won after the summer break. We have to score a lot of points in Melbourne, regardless of what position and I’m looking forward to go racing. We’ve got a decent package and the engine works well so I’m happy with all of that.”

At the start of the afternoon session, we see the usual driver swaps with Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Kevin Magnussen (Haas) and Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) all taking over from their team mates.

Although a lot of teams focus on long runs, most drivers get a shot at a performance run with low fuel and soft tyres. Sebastian Vettel’s fastest lap of the morning (1:16.221) remains the quickest effort of the whole pre-season test. Only Lewis Hamilton comes close to time set by the Ferrari ace. The reigning champ’s 1:16.224, set in the afternoon, displays the true pace of Mercedes.

The day ends with a red flag, caused by a stalled Haas, piloted by Magnussen. The American outfit is the most productive team of the day with the Dane managing 73 laps and his team mate Romain Grosjean completing 94 laps in the morning.

Carlos Sainz is the driver with the most laps to his name. The Spaniard laps the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya 134 times in his McLaren.

Red Bull Racing is stuck in the garage since 11am. The Milton Keynes based team has come across a gearbox issue that cannot be fixed. It curtails Max’ track time to a total of 29 laps.

On Saturday, RBR has scheduled a filming day at the Barcelona track, before it heads to Australia for round one of the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship.

Pre-Season Test 2 - Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya – Friday 1 March 2019