Frijns does not count on setbacks for Verstappen: ‘You can bet that he will do that with pleasure’

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Frijns does not count on setbacks for Verstappen: 'You can bet that he will do that with pleasure'

According to Formula E driver Robin Frijns, the test days in Bahrain were already a small precursor to the course of the season. The Dutch driver mainly remembered his own Formula 1 test days, although his experience ensured that even before the season he saw that Max Verstappen could be extremely successful again.

Frijns has been competing in Formula E for a long time and has even grown into one of the experienced hands in the profession, and he has had quite a few successes to his name there. Yet the Dutchman also has the necessary experience in Formula 1, despite never getting further than a few tests. Frijns drove for the former Sauber team as a test and reserve driver, and the test days of 2024 reminded him a lot of that.

Frijns was introduced to the importance of test days on his own

In his column for Formula 1 Magazine he looked back on his own experience as a Formula 1 test driver. ‘In the run-up to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, it was mainly about expectations, new concepts, the balance of power… and test days. I also have plenty of memories of the latter. Not always good. Because when I test, I immediately think of that one day in Fiorano, it was sometime in 2013.’

Frijns was instructed by the Sauber team to do a so-called straight-line test. However, it was snowing in Italy, and he was sent out on normal tires. ‘You guessed it: after two or three laps the grip was gone, cold tires, nothing worked. And when I stepped on the gas, the car slid and I was standing there with the Sauber in the snow at the side of the track.” Yet there was no reason to panic: ‘After all, Kimi Räikkönen had once written off a car in the same way, while I had at least managed to keep the car intact.’

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Max Verstappen wins Saudi Arabia Red Bull Racing
Verstappen’s test days were significant, according to Frijns. (Photo: Red Bull Content Pool/Getty Images)

Test days are more telling than expected

Yet this made Frijns increasingly aware of how important test days are. ‘A team asks you to run a program, wants to try specific things. And although we should perhaps not attach too much importance to times, you can still gain some information about the relationships.’

According to the Dutchman, his compatriot Verstappen was the perfect example of this. ‘Just look at Max in Bahrain, that first day. That gap of 1.1 seconds may not have said everything, but it did tell you that he was immediately comfortable in that RB20.’ Frijns knows better than anyone that this is just as important as data in black and white, although he knows that drivers ultimately only want one thing. ‘Ultimately, as a driver you mainly want to race.’

However, according to the Formula E driver, that suits Verstappen well. ‘You can bet that Max will be happy to do that again this season with Red Bull. And with success,” he added. However, he predicted less success on the other side of the grid: ‘I expect McLaren as the second team and Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin will complete the party at the top this year. And a setback? That will be Alpine, it really is a meaningless team.’

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