Verstappen says Red Bull have 'more to come in qualifying’ after strong opening day
Lewis Hamilton may have ended Free Practice 2 as the fastest runner – but Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was less than two-tenths away in second place, and convinced that he had the pace to challenge the five-time champion’s Mercedes in qualifying.
Verstappen led the first session of the day, heading Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari by just 0.167s in Free Practice 1 – albeit that the session was run in largely unrepresentative late-afternoon conditions.
But as the track cooled and the floodlights were switched on, it was Hamilton who led the way in Free Practice 2, with Verstappen ending up 0.184s adrift. With a cleaner lap, though, Verstappen reckoned he could have been even more in the mix.
This race is 95 percent about qualifying – and I’m feeling positive so far
“It was a good day,” said Verstappen. “We are competitive and the car was working really well in both practice sessions. I had traffic in the last sector on my qualifying simulation and I only improved by two-tenths compared to the hard tyre run, which means we have more to come.
“I think we look strong on long and short runs but of course, Lewis also looks very fast. It’s not an easy track to understand and it is very bumpy out there but with a competitive car it’s really enjoyable to drive. There are always things that can be improved which we will look at now.
“This race is 95 percent about qualifying and I’m feeling positive so far.”
Having started second on the grid in Singapore for the past two seasons, Verstappen will now be looking to go one better on Saturday and chase down his second career pole position, as he gets to unleash the extra grunt of his updated Spec 4 Honda power unit for the first time in anger.