Verstappen: Red Bull have work to do, but updates look good
Max Verstappen has fond memories of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the venue of his first Grand Prix win in what was his first weekend with Red Bull in 2016. Repeating the feat this year might be tricky, after he finished three quarters of a second adrift of pace-setter Valtteri Bottas in Friday practice - but it seems there are positives to take…
It wasn’t the ideal start to a race weekend for Verstappen, the Dutchman losing track time in opening practice when the team discovered an oil leak. Red Bull - who like most teams are running updates this weekend - swapped the unit out for the engine he’ll use for the rest of the weekend in time for second practice, though.
“I missed a bit of running in first practice, so I think that did put us a little on the backfoot for the second session,” said Verstappen, who had a close call with Bottas on track in FP1.
“Clearly there is still some work to do. Tonight, we will analyse the new parts and see what is going to be positive for tomorrow. [The update] is good, it works for sure, but with this track, you have to see, with downforce levels as well.”
It was a reasonably strong day for Verstappen's team mate Pierre Gasly, the Frenchman ending up seventh, two places and two tenths adrift of the Dutchman. Gasly admitted to having a good feeling with the car, but wasn't sure it had brought Red Bull any closer to Mercedes and Ferrari.
“In terms of balance, I was pretty happy,” said Gasly. “But in terms of overall grip, we'd like always more, I think we did a step, but Mercedes and Ferrari did also a pretty big step.
“ We'll have to analyse tonight. I think compared to Ferrari, we lose quite a bit in the first sector mainly, so try to analyse the places we lose and improve for tomorrow. I'm pretty sure we'll find some answers to find some more performance for tomorrow.
“I felt good as well in the car today. There's always things you can improve, and I'm trying to suit my driving style a bit more towards that car, and slowly also the set-up is coming to me and we're finding the direction I need with my engineers and the whole team.”
Team Principal Christian Horner said Verstappen and Gasly were working through “different programmes” on Friday and their initial impression of the update is that it “seems to be working OK”.
He added that while he anticipates it will be hard for Red Bull to challenge Mercedes and Ferrari in qualifying, he thinks it will “concertina for the race”, adding “tyre degradation can be an issue around here, so let’s see”.