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Red Bull left chasing gains after Ferrari’s “very impressive” race runs

Red Bull says Ferrari’s “very impressive” long-run pace at Formula 1’s Australian Grand Prix shows it needs to unlock more performance.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was quickest overall in second free practice at Albert Park, finishing the session 0.381 seconds clear of world championship leader Max Verstappen.

But while Red Bull thinks the single-lap form is clouded by teams running different engine modes, the squad thinks the Ferrari challenge is real based on its strong race simulations.

Speaking to Sky Germany, Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko said: “We need to make improvements.

“The car is not bad, but Leclerc has set a pace that still needs a lot of fine-tuning, I think. In general, you have to say that the field is getting closer together.”

Asked about whether Ferrari was flattered by engine modes, Marko said: “I think Ferrari drove at full power in the qualifying simulation. Not us. That's why I don't see the three-tenths [gap] as critical.

“But the long run was very impressive. Our set-up is not yet right.”

Verstappen’s form in second practice was also hampered by him losing track time early on as the result of repairs needed to his car following a run across the kerbs in first practice.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Marko added: “It has to be said: he touched a kerb and this contact caused relatively heavy damage. That's why we came out later. We lost valuable time.

“But I think the set-up is going in the right direction. However, the 15 minutes that we ultimately lost meant that it wasn't what we had imagined.”

Verstappen himself said that the missed time meant Red Bull did not get through its full programme.

 “Unfortunately [it was] a little bit messy because of what happened in FP1,” he said. “I went wide, damaged the floor and also the chassis so took a little bit longer to fix that unfortunately. So, I lost like 20 minutes.

“But I do think the turnaround was very quick what we did as a team, so I more or less completed the program still. Long run I would have liked maybe a few more laps but we were missing 20 minutes, that's how it was.”

And while Ferrari looks to be in good shape based on the first day of action, Verstappen was far from alarmed about things.

“I think it was alright,” said the Dutchman. “I think Ferrari is quick but, from our side, I think there are also a few more things that we can fine-tune. So, nothing crazy, nothing worrying. I think, yeah, we just need to fine-tune a little bit the car.”

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