The honey moon of alliance of Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Honda, which continued in Australia, where both teams have showed solid results, including the podium, seem, has some crisis, at least in Bahrain. During Friday and Saturday at Sakhir teams looked good, however, both were suspiciously slow in qualifying.
On Friday, in one of the plenty interviews, Lewis Hamilton said that Honda engines’ power is already in the range of 10 horsepower from the leaders. Indeed, in FP1 Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen (P5) and Pierre Gasly (P6) were the third fastest team, right after Ferrari and Mercedes, and Max was in 0,07 from Lewis Hamilton. As for Toro Rosso, according to Daniil Kvyat (P9 in FP1, P10 in FP2), he and his teammate Alex Albon (P13 in FP1, P13 in FP2) did a good job during the Friday.
“Generally, we had quite a productive Friday. We managed to cover all of the useful test items we planned for the day, and also covered both short and long runs – which is very important for Friday practice! It seems like everything is quite tight in terms of performance among the midfield teams, so we will work hard overnight to optimise the car for tomorrow in order to put us where we want to be.”
However, Max Verstappen, who lost one place to Niko Hulkenberg in FP2, while his teammate set only the 12th time, has complained of problems with the engine.
“It’s OK but it can be better. We still didn’t find the right set-up. We knew that Ferrari was going to be quick and they are. We still have some work to do, especially on the softest tyres.”
“I had some issues in general in the fastest lap with the power, not having full power. I think on the medium tyre we actually look quite competitive. I should have been first on that tyre. Again, I had a power release out of the last corner, I lost three-tenths with that,” – quoted racefans.net.
On Saturday the Red Bull and Toro Rosso results in FP3 have gotten a little worse: Alex went down on P17, Max on P8. Daniil and Pierre remained almost at the same level: Kvyat – P10, Gasly – P12.
In Bahrain there is a common difficulty for all teams and drivers – it’s to find the right set-ups for the car, because free practices start in the morning or afternoon, but the quali and race in the evening, after sunset. So, in qualifying we saw how much slower the drivers were, compared to Friday results.
In Q1 all RB and TR drivers could move to Q2, but then Immediately three of them – Kvyat (P15), Gasly (P13) and Albon (P12) were out of Q3. Max Verstappen has moved to Q3, however during the Q2, he asked the team why is he so slow. Also, Pierre Gasly complained of the gas pedal, that he couldn't push it thoroughly.
According to Jody Egginton, Deputy Technical Director, Albon has made a mistake at the final corner, losing a lot of time. As for Daniil, it was an operational issue.
“Today’s sessions have again highlighted how very tight the midfield pack is, with small differences in lap time having quite big effects on final positions. FP3 validated the setup changes we made overnight but, on the flip side, we did not manage to extract everything from the option tyre, meaning we went into qualifying with a few more questions than is ideal at this point in the weekend."
"Qualifying itself, similar to Australia, showed some promise but was ultimately frustrating in that we again missed out on qualifying 3. Alex went wide at the final corner, dropping some time on what was up to that point a lap sufficiently quick enough for Q3. Dany’s qualifying also didn’t deliver on the promise shown earlier in the weekend because of an operational issue, which prevented him carrying out his planned second run. We now switch our focus to the race and, with our long run pace during Friday appearing quite reasonable, we will be working hard to have both cars ready to take any opportunity which may present itself.”
However, in Q3 Max didn’t lose to Haas and McLaren drivers, and went to P5, just in 0,1 from Valtteri Bottas.