Verstappen & Bottas expect tyres to be crucial in Bahrain GP fight

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Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas both highlighted the importance of tyre management after degradation was high in Bahrain on Friday.

The abrasive track surface at Sakhir combined with multiple traction zones mean the rears often struggle to last in the race stint, and that was again proving the case on both the medium and soft compound.

That's why, despite a pretty competitive Friday, which saw Max within three-tenths of Lewis Hamilton on the medium tyre, Verstappen wasn't taking anything for granted.

“It will become clearer but you can clearly see they’re quick again,” the Dutchman said of the gap between himself and Mercedes.

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“There’s no surprise by that but from our side, we just need to focus on getting an even better balance in the car and then just focus on the race because the tyres here they’re quite tricky, there’s a lot of degradation lap after lap.

“There are still a few things to look into for qualifying performance but also you don’t want to fully focus on qualifying because like I said the race is quite aggressive on tyres.”

In his post-session comments, Bottas agreed, noting how the situation is very different to the cold temperatures drivers have had to deal with recently in Europe. 

“I think here the main thing is, really, the overheating of the tyre, which is something we haven’t had for quite some races now," he said.

"We’ve been trying to get temperature into the tyres, but now we have to try to keep them cool, so the driving style required is completely different."


Commenting on the pecking order, the Mercedes driver admits there does remain many unknowns because of red flags and other factors disrupting the usual program.

“We have things to learn going into tomorrow, from today," he said. “Looking at the feeling and the general performance, the day was okay.

“It was definitely more challenging in the first session, which it always is here. Also tomorrow, FP3 will be tricky there will be a warmer track temperature and more wind.

“Overall, today wasn’t bad. I’m still not fully happy with the balance, and both sessions were slightly messy with traffic and mistakes here and there so there’s a lot more to come.

“It’s tricky to say because I think many teams were running different types of programmes because we had some new Pirelli tyres to try, so it’s a bit difficult to read, but I think Red Bull is up there.”