Max Verstappen fires warning to rivals ahead of Bahrain Grand Prix

Max Verstappen claims that Red Bull’s new car is better in every way than last year’s ahead of the Formula One season opener in Bahrain.

Even before pre-season testing last week, the Dutchman was already heavily favoured to win a third straight drivers’ title, especially after the way he dominated in 2022.

And after the results of testing in Sakhir, it is clear that the Red Bull RB19 is the fastest machine on the grid – at least for now.

Verstappen was extremely upbeat with the way his team have improved from last season and the comments he made in Thursday’s pre-race press conference will no doubt have sent shivers down the spines of all his rivals.

Asked where exactly the RB19 was better than its predecessor, the RB18, the 25-year-old simply replied: ‘Everywhere.

‘That’s the aim, to improve. It feels nice, well balanced. Every team has lost performance because of the floor but you try to gain it back in a way. It’s been good.

‘I mean we had three really good days and in general the progress we made over the winter was very good, but we have to show it this weekend.

‘The teams close to us [are competitors], but also from ourselves because we have to stay on top. We cannot afford to make many mistakes.’

While we won’t know for sure who is quickest until Saturday qualifying and Sunday’s race, other drivers seemed resigned to losing out to Red Bull for the first grand prix.

Mercedes’ George Russell said: ‘It probably wasn’t the smoothest three days we could have hoped for at testing. But the learning we found is going to put us in better stead for this weekend.

‘But I think it’s definitely fair to say Red Bull are in a league of their own this weekend. But it’ll probably be a nice fight for second between Ferrari and Aston Martin.’

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