The data that shows Red Bull’s true Saudi Arabia pace


Max Verstappen did not appear to have great speed over one lap in Saudi Arabia as the Dutchman fell short of besting Fernando Alonso and George Russell at the end of second practice.

However, it was immediately questionable whether this was a representative result.

At the season opener in Bahrain just one week ago, a similar picture was visible after free practice before Verstappen launched himself to pole position a day later.

The reason for his lacklustre practice pace was partly due to Red Bull not turning up its engine power versus the rest of the competition.

It once again seems to be the case in Saudi Arabia, although during second practice, the difference was mainly in the fast corners.

Verstappen lost a large portion of time in the first and second sectors, where car balance is the most important aspect as the fast corners follow each other in rapid succession.

In the third sector where top speed is of vital importance, Verstappen lost only 0.046s compared to Alonso. While the difference in top speed is close, the picture is a bit distorted.

The 26-year-old Dutchman verified that the rest were driving with more power and predicted an exciting qualifying session.

View the fastest laps of Alonso and Verstappen below.

Red Bull impressive during long runs

Verstappen is justifiably satisfied with the long runs. The speed was once again impressive, including from teammate Sergio Perez. The Mexican drove the longest run from the top drivers and did so on Mediums.

His lap times were consistent and very fast, and Verstappen added to that. The Dutchman was the only driver to record times in the 1:33s range on Mediums. Charles Leclerc also managed those times, but he drove his long run on Softs.

Once again we saw the usual gap between the two Red Bull teammates – the ease with which Perez set consistent times and Verstappen toured the circuit must be painful for the competition.

Alonso seemed to be very much in line with Red Bull over one lap but lost out in the long run. The two-time World Champion was, on average, more than half a second slower.

Who could make things difficult for Red Bull in the race? As it stands, it appears no one. Russell posted encouraging times but was nowhere near Verstappen, nor were Leclerc and teammate Carlos Sainz.

View the long runs of Verstappen, Perez, Alonso and Russell below.

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