Verstappen hopeful Red Bull can challenge after solving Bahrain blip

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Max Verstappen does expect Red Bull to close on Mercedes and Ferrari after finding the cause of their Bahrain woes.

 The Milton Keynes outfit was off the pace in the desert as the team struggled to optimise the soft tyre with the Dutchman even getting involved in an incident with Carlos Sainz early on.

As Ferrari's race unravelled though, Verstappen would be unlucky to miss out on a podium in fourth, and the post-race test has unlocked some answers to the RB15's problems.

"We understood already a lot in testing. We also found out that we made a mistake with the setup during the whole week, unfortunately," he explained on Thursday.

While only describing the mistake as "mechanical", Max did think there was some link between their error and the tyre issues.

"Well, that is another thing but in general it wouldn’t help," he said. "Especially if you have the soft tyres you’re sliding that much, you’re overheating them, so yeah, it wouldn’t have helped.

"It would’ve cleaned it up fully, it’s always a question mark."

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Looking ahead, Verstappen does think a more competitive race in China is possible, as he returns to a circuit where Red Bull won last year.

"It’s a new Grand Prix so a lot of things can happen and we just have to make sure that we can be on top of what we can control and then we’ll see how competitive we’re going to be," he said.

Asked if the team could challenge if the problems are resolved, he added: "It’ll be a simple fix what went wrong there (in Bahrain) but then we need to see how the rest of the car behaves.

"I think if we could find a good balance with the car, we could be fighting closer yeah."

Verstappen will certainly be hoping to avoid a repeat of the incident with Sebastian Vettel at the hairpin that essentially gave then-teammate Daniel Ricciardo the path through to claim victory.