Helmut Marko makes huge claim which will alarm Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari

Red Bull set the fastest time on Thursday in Bahrain as well as the fastest top speed.

Red Bull have picked up where they left off so far this pre-season, with Max Verstappen proving that he is once again the favourite for the title this season.

The Dutchman completed both sessions in the RB19 on Thursday, with Sergio Perez running in the second half of testing.

After completing 157 laps without any major issues and topping the timing screens with a 1:32:837, Red Bull were over the moon with their day’s work.

The only real issue that Red Bull need to address involved their pit stops, with the crew accidently dropping the RB19 during a practice stop.

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After proving both their speed and reliability in the first day of pre-season testing, Red Bull’s chief advisor Helmut Marko is extremely pleased with his team’s preparations so far.

“It’s almost frightening how early we finished the new car this year and how smoothly everything has worked so far,” he said.

“Everything worked right away. For now we are very happy.

“I think we are in a better position at the moment than last year at the same time.”

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Red Bull are seeing the effects of their dominant 2022 in pre-season, as their early clinching of both championships last year allowed them to focus on developing the RB19 rather than continuing to upgrade the RB18.

While Red Bull were almost flawless in day one of testing, the same cannot be said for Mercedes and Ferrari, the two teams which Marko expects to be able to challenge the energy drink giants this year.

“They both still have their problems, but I expect them to solve that with their experience,” said the 79-year-old.

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“I am surprised the Ferrari is still bouncing like that. We didn’t expect that. And the Mercedes still looks a bit restless. But it’s only the first day.”

Both Mercedes drivers were significantly slower than Ferrari and Red Bull, leaving fans to believe that the team are already sandbagging to hide their true potential,

These suggestions are backed up by Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff’s recent claims, with the Austrian telling the media after Thursday’s session that the W14 is a car capable of winning the championship this year.