Perez searching for one-lap pace, as Verstappen shrugs off mistake that left him P9 in FP2
The Friday practice timesheets in Spain don’t make pretty reading for Red Bull, as Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez closed out the top 10 – but their drivers aren’t too concerned and remain optimistic about their chances this weekend.
Red Bull have offered an impressive threat to Mercedes this year, but at the Circuit de Catalunya on Friday, as Mercedes sauntered to the top two times in FP2, Perez struggled to get a good lap out of the softs, while Verstappen aborted his when he ran wide at Turn 10.
“It was a tricky day,” said Perez. “These days with the limited practice we have, we had a couple of delays in both sessions, and that means we were rushing a bit into traffic and stuff like that.
“A lot of understanding and pace to be found tonight, especially over one lap. I think the long run pace looks stronger. We have to work and see what we are able to take for qualifying, given how important it is here.
He added: “Hopefully we are able to recover the pace tonight and we can be in the mix tomorrow.”
The car seems quite competitive, so looking forward to tomorrow to try and improve a bit further but nothing too shocking today
Verstappen was just a tenth off the pace when he went in too hot at Turn 10, ran wide and kissed the edge of the gravel trap before backing out of it with the lap now lost.
It’s perhaps why he was more encouraged than Perez as he feels he has the pace to fight at the front if he can get it all right on the track where he secured his first Grand Prix victory in 2016.
“I just a little bit wide in Turn 10, got onto the kerb,” said Verstappen. “Overall, I think we had quite a good day. The car seems quite competitive, so looking forward to tomorrow to try and improve a bit further but nothing too shocking today.”
Does he think he can get his first front row start in Spain come Saturday? “We seem quite competitive,” he said. “How competitive we’re going to be tomorrow is always going to be a question mark but from our side, we were quite happy.
“Of course you always want to improve and you want to do better but there was nothing weird going on today. So yeah, just have to make sure tomorrow, we’re out there.”
They’ll have one more hour of practice on Saturday morning to refine their cars before qualifying. It could well be a busy night for the Red Bull engineers, then.