Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing prepares to drive in the garage during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on February 29, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Formula 1 News: Verstappen admits he was sandbagging on Day 1

Defending World Driving Champion Max Verstappen was only 6th fastest in Practice 2 for the Bahrain GP but admits he wasn’t trying hard.

The reigning world champion was just under 0.5s off Lewis Hamilton, who set the pace in the improved Mercedes W15.

While Verstappen didn’t show Red Bull’s true potential over one lap, he was clearly the driver to beat during the race simulations.

“I think it was not too bad,” he said. “It’s just that it’s very close. Maybe some people around us already turned up the engine a bit in terms of top speed.

“We just focus on ourselves and I think from today there were a few little balance issues from front to rear but nothing big. It’s just about trying to find that sweet spot. Especially around here, with the right tarmac.

“Once you get into that sweet spot you just pick up time. That’s what we will try to focus on tomorrow.”

When pressed on the engine mode point, he explained: “I wouldn’t say everyone around us did that but a few did. I am not too worried about the gap to P1 for example but it’s going to be very close in qualifying so that’s going to be very nice.

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