Perez expects Red Bull will “start the season much stronger than we did last year” · RaceFans

Sergio Perez believes Red Bull are set for a strong start to the 2023 F1 season after topping the final day of testing in Bahrain.

The team won 17 out of 22 races last year, but were not in such strong shape at the beginning of the season. Ferrari had the upper hand in performance and Red Bull also encountered reliability problems in the opening races.

Perez’s lap of 1’30.305 today stood as the quickest time of the test, was better than the team managed during last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix and two-tenths of a second quicker than Charles Leclerc’s pole position time for that race.

“The team has done a tremendous job back in Milton Keynes,” Perez told the official F1 website after completing his pre-season testing. “The factory has been working really hard over the winter.

“We’ve certainly got a good base car, something we can work through it. I think we will only find out next weekend where we really are because I think these days we don’t get to see the full picture.”

Teams only had three days of testing before the start of the season, leaving each driver one-and-a-half days each. Perez spent the entire day in the Red Bull and covered 133 laps, the majority of his pre-season running.

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“Testing is very short so it’s very important to get the maximum out of it,” he said. “It worked really well. I think we got a good understanding of our car.

“Obviously Bahrain is very difficult in testing, the track is changing pretty much every time you go out, the Tarmac is very rough. So just in general, I think it’s a difficult track to test.

“But I think with the most we could. We did a lot of analysis on set-ups on tyres. So I think we did the most we could, we completed our programmes both days so pleased with that.”

He said his minimum expectation for the season-opening race in eight days’ time is “to be up there” in contention for victory. “It will be an important weekend.

“Conditions are going to be a bit similar to what we just experienced tonight. It will be great to start the season much stronger than we did last year.”

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