Verstappen 'ready' for Australia after strong end to F1 testing

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Max Verstappen has declared himself ready for the new Formula 1 season after a good final day of winter testing.

The Red Bull driver finished second fastest behind Valtteri Bottas' Mercedes, in the clearest sign yet that the Anglo-Austrian team is in the best shape they've been in for many years heading to the first race.

Indeed, most of the week, Verstappen's comments have been very positive about the RB16, but of course, he still wants more.

"I definitely feel ready for Melbourne and the last two weeks have been a good preparation," he said.

"We tried everything we wanted to over the six days which is very important from our side, so I’m happy with that.

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"Overall, I can’t complain but that doesn’t mean we should stop the hard work and there are always things to improve.

"No car is ever perfect, especially at this stage in the season, so we will keep pushing to make improvements."

The highlight of the day for the Dutchman was finally taking some fuel out and running some softer tyres, as he used the C4 compound to set his best time of 1m16.269s.

"Everybody did that already before so we planned a bit of that so yeah it's a lot more fun to drive a car like that," Max admitted.

"All the time it's just a lot of laps in a row so it all seems to be working quite well. We weren't running the softest compound but still, I think the balance of the car was good."

The main problem for Verstappen and Red Bull is ending Mercedes' reign at the top of F1 is still likely to be a very tough challenge.

"Mercedes also look very fast as expected but I don’t really look too much at them as nobody knows exactly what they are doing, so it’s better to focus on ourselves," he added.

"Overall I think the pace looks pretty good, it’s been a positive start and I hope it’s enough to be competitive in Melbourne."

One thing that has been noticeable is the reliability of Honda, with only one precautionary engine change needed across the six days.

“Three days is very little time per driver, but we have been productive, compared to 12 months ago we have driven more kilometres," team boss Christian Horner commented.

"We are better prepared than last year. The relationship is more mature between us and Honda and the reliability has proven to be very strong."