“Today we went through a lot of different set-up options. It’s good that the start of the season is here, so we have a bit of a reference. And we just have a lot of things to go through and try to make it a bit better.
“We have not a lot of time, it’s been definitely the shortest pre-season I’ve done in my career. I still have a lot of things to learn in the car, to get the maximum out of it.
“The best I can do is just to be patient, and take the first races as they come. I will get more on top of things in the team. For now, I just have to be patient and together with my engineers, we just have to keep working very hard.
“Ideally I would like more running. I mean, it’s crazy when I finished my half day, to think that that was it, that I have to jump into the race when we are back. It’s crazy to think that. But it’s how it is, you know.
“Changing teams is not ideal. So I think in that regard, the people that are changing teams are going to be in a disadvantage compared to the people that are carrying on or have experience with their teams. But it’s part of the game, and we just have to make the most out of it. But certainly, it’s very little time.”
Asked how long it would take, he said: “After five races, once we go through very different races, different conditions, you understand the car, the team, a lot better. Five races, proper races, should be good.”
Perez was a fixture at Force India/Racing Point for seven seasons, and thus the package had inevitably developed in a direction that suits him. He has much to get used to at Red Bull with his new car.
Verstappen wouldn’t reveal what he’s made of Perez’s time in the team so far
Grand Prix Photo
“I think they’re obviously very different in many aspects, the way you drive each of the cars is very different,” he said.
“So you have to adapt to a different car, to a different style. But overall, I just have to say that this car has potential in it. And once I get on top of the car, we should be looking good.
“I’ve driven in very difficult conditions with the wind around Bahrain. I’m pleased where the car is, I think there is definitely good potential in it. And there’s obviously good areas to focus on, to try to improve them. But the overall picture, it’s a positive one.”
We might not see the best of Perez in the early races. He knows that one-lap pace is not his main strength, and Verstappen is likely to be comfortably on top in their qualifying battle. However, as a racer, he is consistently good, always getting the most out of his tyres.
Pirelli has made changes to its constructions for this year, with wider fronts, and all drivers and teams still have a lot to learn. Perez will get on top of them earlier than most.
How that plays out at different venues relative to Verstappen remains to be seen. Max’s ability to manage a race should not be underestimated, as he too can nurse tyres when he has to, and over the past few years he’s pulled off some great performances.
If the car is as good as it appears to be, there is a chance that both men could be starting races at the front of the field, and potentially fighting each other for the win. That could give Christian Horner a tricky situation to manage, one that he has not had to deal with for a while.
Verstappen has never paid too much attention to his team-mates, and in Bahrain he had little to say when asked for his initial impressions of his new partner.
“To be honest I’ve been busy myself, so I haven’t really been able to listen or whatever,” he insisted. “I haven’t been running around with the headset on. I guess you can ask other people in the team that question.”