What the teams said – Friday in Portugal
A smooth day on one side of the garage, as Bottas continued his fine run of Friday form with a P1 in both sessions. The Finn looked comfortable around the new track from the get-go and will be brimming with confidence heading into tomorrow. As for his team mate, Hamilton struggled slightly by comparison as his flying laps on the soft tyre were marred by traffic and red flags. With both cars suffering from graining, it will be interesting to see if DAS can make a difference when it is bolted back onto the cars tomorrow.
Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 1:18.749, P2; FP2: 1:19.308, P8
"The elevation changes on this track are incredible. There's a lot of places where you just can't see where you are going, so that's very challenging and the surface is also very smooth. I think track conditions didn't change that much throughout the day. The wind picked up, and I don't know if it changed direction, but it made it tricky out there. Unfortunately we ended up sitting in the garage for much longer than we'd hoped for with the two red flags in FP2. I think FP1 was the better session for me, even though the car didn't feel that great. We then made some changes, and it felt quite bad in FP2, so we need to take a few steps back and figure out where we went wrong with the set-up and see if we can improve tomorrow. Looking ahead, it is not going to get any easier to get a clear gap out there on the track, because it is really tough to get the tyres in the right window for the first lap here, even with the soft, which is actually pretty hard for a soft compound. Q1 will be exciting, with a lot of cars out there, it's going to be a dog fight to get a clear position and get a time in. But that's what we do and everyone is in the same boat!"
Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:18.410, P1; FP2: 1:17.940, P1
"It's been a good day today. The sun was shining, this is a great track for driving; it could definitely be worse! It was quite slippery out on track, it reminded me a lot of when we went to Sochi or Austin for the first time, and we drove on the new tarmac there. This type of tarmac is tricky in terms of getting grip. Once you lose the grip, you can drop the car quite quickly, and I think that's the reason why we have seen so many spins today. The track was evolving lap by lap, and it got better throughout the day, but maybe it was reset slightly in between the two sessions, and with red flags in second practice there wasn't that much useful running. So, I'm still expecting an increase in grip over the rest of the weekend. The balance of the car was also pretty good. I was mainly struggling in the slow speed corners with the rear end of the car but it is not too far away from where I want it, as the lap times would also suggest. But as always, there will be more work to do tomorrow."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"We had a reasonable morning but a messy afternoon with the red flags, although that's probably the same story up and down the grid. The circuit is really good with some challenging corners and the car seems reasonably quick but the balance isn't great. The tyres are quite hard here so getting the single lap isn't easy and the warm-up all day has been a real challenge but hopefully that will improve as the track grips improves. We did a lot of laps in the afternoon but a good chunk of the mileage was the Pirelli tyre test, which doesn't generate useful information for us and then the timing of the red flags meant we couldn't complete the long run work on the race tyres. Valtteri got a pretty good low fuel lap in before the red flags but Lewis couldn't extract the same grip so there's something for us to understand there. In terms of the long runs it looks like the midfield cars are a bit closer than normal which also suggests we're not quite in the right window yet. Normally we have a car that is easy to balance and we're not in that position right now, but we'll work hard to try and get on top of a few of those issues before tomorrow."
Verstappen was the first to fall foul of the Portimao track, spinning in FP1 while gathering aero data for the team. He emerged unscathed from that one, but not so from a bigger incident in FP2. Trying to dive down the inside into Turn 1 to overtake the Racing Point of Stroll, the two collided, bringing out the red flags. Verstappen was able to continue once the session restarted, with the damage fortunately minimal. That crash scuppered his team mate, though, who lost his flying run and thus didn’t set a fully representative lap time on the softs.
Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:19.191, P3; FP2: 1:18.535, P2
“It was quite tricky out there and the new tarmac seems slippery with only one proper line to use as you lose a lot of grip if you run wide. The wind also picked up in the afternoon but overall I think we improved the car from FP1 to FP2 so it all felt a little bit nicer to drive. We will keep trying to improve even further as there are still things we can do better around here. It was interesting to try two new compounds of Pirelli tyres. We don’t know what they were but one set felt a bit better than the other but they both felt nice. I’m not sure if they are faster than what we usually use but I don’t have anything negative to say. It is difficult to say if we can fight Mercedes this weekend as they look very quick but never say never and we always try our best and see where we are tomorrow.”
Alex Albon - FP1: 1:19.365, P5; FP2: 1:19.643, P10
“The track is fun but it was a bit like an ice rink with the lack of grip and increasing wind. With the track temperature dropping and the wind picking up the track didn’t really rubber in throughout the day so I actually felt better in FP1 than in FP2. It's a new challenge which makes it interesting and I’m sure with another Free Practice session tomorrow the track will feel better for qualifying. It’s hard to know where we really are after today and you can see the difference in times throughout the rest of the field is very erratic which I think is just down to the changing wind conditions each run, so we’ll know more tomorrow on where everyone stands.”
Ferrari seem to have rediscovered their form, with Leclerc in particular shining for the Scuderia. He finished in the top four in both sessions and looked comfortable on all three tyre compounds as the new upgrades seemed to pay dividends. Vettel couldn’t quite match his team mate for pace but he too looked an improved figure today, despite locking up and having to take avoiding action after coming across a slow-moving Williams.
Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 1:20.200, P11; FP2: 1:19.175, P6
"Today the track was a big but very interesting challenge for everybody. At the beginning it was very slippery, mostly because of the resurfacing, but it is very smooth. It was my very first day and I liked it. It’s good that we have plenty of tracks that are exciting. I think tomorrow will be better as the track itself will improve and we will know it better.
"It’s a bit difficult to say how competitive we were in the afternoon session, because not all the drivers tried a qualifying lap. Today, what everybody needed was more running to get into a rhythm. The car felt a bit nervous, partly due to the elevation changes, but I suppose that is the same for everyone. We will see the true picture tomorrow."
Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:19.309, P4; FP2: 1:18.838, P4
"This track is amazing! It took quite a few laps to find the flow, because you don’t really see any apexes but once you get into the rhythm, it’s really good. The circuit is also extremely slippery and the rear of the car is moving everywhere but I think that makes it even better in terms of fun! The grip level didn’t improve much throughout the sessions, which should make for an exciting race.
"Today looked quite good for us and, mainly on the qualifying side, it was fairly promising. Let’s wait and see though, as we haven’t had much high-fuel running with normal tyres, as we did some with the prototype-tyres instead. Running with high fuel was actually our weakness at the last race, so it’ll be a bit of a surprise on Sunday and we’ll see where we are."
A late flying lap from Norris propelled him up the leaderboard in FP2 to a very eye-catching third, with his team mate not that far behind. Does this track suit the MCL35? Based on Friday’s running they certainly have cause to be confident, which bodes well given they need a big result to reignite their constructors’ championship campaign. The team haven’t scored double points since Monza, something they are looking to put right this weekend.
Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:19.441, P6; FP2: 1:19.113, P5
“I think it’s been a challenging Friday out there, for everyone. A track with very low grip, and the wind picking up in the afternoon made things even more tricky.
“We managed to finish the session fairly high up on the standings without particularly clean runs or clean laps. That means everyone has a very large margin for improvement going into Saturday. We still need to improve the car quite a bit overnight and make sure we get it in the right window for tomorrow.”
Lando Norris - FP1: 1:20.207, P12; FP2: 1:18.743, P3
“The tarmac and temperatures here make it quite tricky to get everything in the right window, which makes the car balance quite tricky as well. It’s been very difficult to put a lap together, due to the disrupted sessions with the red flags and traffic at such a short circuit. Those factors, in combination, have made it a very difficult day to achieve a good balance.
“We ended up in a good position, but I think we’re a long way from that in terms of actual pace. So, we’ve got a lot of work to do tonight to see how we can improve for tomorrow.”
James Key, Technical Director
“It’s nice to come to another new circuit. Portimão is a great track and a genuine technical challenge with the variations of corner type and elevation, so there’s been a lot to learn today. We’ve been able to do our homework, including the running we did for the Pirelli tyre test, which added some useful laps for everyone.
“We had some test items on the car today and we’ll have to analyse the data from those this evening, but early indications are positive. The car seemed reasonably stable and well set-up from the start, despite the difficult grip conditions, which is a credit to the work put in by the race team here and the various groups back at the factory. There’s still work to do overnight and tomorrow morning but, overall, it’s been a productive and useful day.”
Perez went for a couple of spins as he explored the grip levels at this newly resurfaced track, but looked quick and comfortable for the majority of the sessions. Stroll’s return to racing wasn’t as smooth as he might have hoped, though, as he had to watch his car being returned to the pits on the back of a low-loader after crashing into Verstappen in Turn 1. The Canadian was ahead but turned in on the RB16, with the stewards investigating and deciding to take no further action.
Sergio Perez – FP1: 1:19.907, P7; FP2: 1:19.901, P12
“It’s been a real challenge out there today and we need to improve the balance before qualifying. Hopefully, we can go away and make some progress tonight. I think we’ve already seen that this is going to be a very different type of race this weekend. The surface is very low grip and it didn’t really improve from FP1 into FP2, so I wouldn’t expect too much track evolution. It’s a challenging circuit and I believe you’ll see some teams and drivers look quick on Saturday and then struggle on Sunday, and vice versa. It will be about making the right compromises to perform strongly across Saturday and Sunday. It’s all to play for and I’m confident we can be in the mix for good points on Sunday.”
Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:20.954, P15; FP2: 1:20.983, P19
“It was a tricky day because it wasn’t an easy track and it was very low grip. All the drivers were struggling out there. We know where we need to improve in terms of the balance of the car, so we’ll go away and brainstorm overnight and come back with some ideas to be stronger tomorrow. It’s a great circuit and the layout is a lot of fun – I just wish it had some more grip! But on the other side, that means it’s a challenge to drive and mistakes will be punished, so that makes it a really exciting watch for the fans. The incident with Max was unfortunate. We’ve spoken and cleared the air, though. I don’t think Max was expecting me to go for a second push lap and likewise I wasn’t expecting anyone to be alongside me into Turn 1. As he had let me through on the last corner of the previous lap, I thought he would drop into the gap, but he didn’t and we ended up coming together when neither of us expected it. It’s been cleared by the stewards and we can draw a line under it and move on.”
Gasly looked quick when on track, but both his sessions were undone by mechanical woes. He was called in with an undisclosed ‘issue’ in FP1 which didn’t derail his session too badly, but roll on FP2 and worse was to come. His AT01 had to be parked trackside with flames pouring from the rear as he made a sharpish exit from the cockpit, and it remains to be seen how much of that car will need to be changed and what penalties could result. As for Kvyat, a couple of spins aside, he at least had the better of the reliability luck but needs to find a few tenths if he is to challenge for the top 10 tomorrow.
Pierre Gasly - FP1: 1:20.124, P10; FP2: 1:19.178, P7
“It wasn't an ideal Friday in Portimao. I discovered the track this morning in FP1 and I have to say it’s quite cool to drive, the elevation makes it really enjoyable. Unfortunately, in FP2 we had an issue where the car caught fire, so we are still analysing to understand the reason why this happened. This meant we didn’t have time to do a run on soft tyres, which would have been good to see where we sit compared to the others in the short runs. Our performance seems quite decent so far, but on my side, I still do not feel fully happy with the car and I hope we can improve for tomorrow. It will be important to have a clean FP3 to be prepared for Qualifying and to be able to put ourselves in a good starting position for Sunday.”
Daniil Kvyat - FP1: 1:20.278, P13; FP2: 1:20.729, P17
“It was very hard to get into a rhythm in FP2 so there are a few things that are still unclear and will just have to analyse what we have. At the moment nothing feels really good, but that’s normal because the track is still very slippery, so we have to work on a few things before tomorrow to understand what works best for these conditions. It wasn’t as enjoyable driving today because there’s so little grip out there, the car slides quite a bit so it’s going to be a different challenge for us. We will have to tweak a few things on the car to understand the right balance for this track.”
Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer
“Although Formula 1 tested here back in 2009, effectively, Portimao is a new track for us. The surface has been completely resurfaced recently and, as we have seen in the past with fresh tarmac, it generally starts very slippery and low grip. This, combined with a more conservative tyre compound choice than other events of the season, and the wind intensity, meant it was hard for the drivers to get into a good rhythm during the session. All teams ran the Base tyre at the start of FP1 to remove this additional set from their allocation. The priority of the session for us was to give Pierre and Daniil a lot of track time to learn the circuit, complete some aero tests and characterisation, and begin setup optimisation for the track. The balance was hard to read in the low grip conditions, but the competitiveness was promising.
"We had a slow puncture on Pierre’s second set so he couldn’t complete the long run at the end of the session, which was unfortunate as we now miss the tyre data on that compound.
"For FP2, we made various changes to the car to improve the balance and overall grip. The first 30 minutes were dedicated to Pirelli tyre testing, which is effectively blind for us but helps with their 2021 development.
"After that, we started our planned performance runs, but unfortunately for Pierre, during the first new tyre lap his car had a ‘blackout’ and subsequent fire, so we need to review the issue when the car is back in the garage. After the Red Flag period to clear Pierre’s car, Daniil went for his new Option tyre run but had to abort due to the second Red Flag for the incident in Turn 1. Upon restarting the session, the temperatures were not ready and others were on high fuel, which made it difficult for Daniil to set a good lap. This means the classification today is not fully representative. We have a lot to look through tonight and are lacking long run tyre data, so it could make for an interesting race on Sunday.”
Ocon’s FP1 came to a smoky end as he pitted with an apparent issue which the team soon resolved, meaning the Frenchman could take part fully in FP2. He looked quietly competent around Portimao, but his team mate’s form is a slight unknown as Ricciardo suffered traffic on his final flying runs in FP2. The Aussie had to abort after Latifi was released from the pits into his path, before losing time in Leclerc’s dirty air. More to come from him tomorrow.
Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:21.673, P19; FP2: 1:19.496, P9
“Today we were discovering a new track and a new venue, so it was very busy! The track itself is a bit like a rollercoaster, with so many ups and downs and it’s good fun to drive. We did struggle a bit today and I found that straight away there was just no grip, it’s like nothing I’ve driven before. And then we obviously had the tyre test which limited some of our running in the afternoon. The grip is completely different to what we are used to so we’ve got to maximise it the best we can tomorrow.”
Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:20.058, P9; FP2: 1:19.987, P13
“The track is really cool and it’s very up and down with a lot of blind spots. The surface is a little difficult to drive on currently with very low grip as it’s quite new. But it’s obviously the same for everyone. I think overall it was a little frustrating today and we didn’t get a lot of good running done. We’ve got some homework to do tonight that’s for sure, but I think we’ll be okay. I think tomorrow will be luck of the draw when it comes to getting a clean lap and managing the tyres.”
Ciaron Pilbeam, Chief Race Engineer
“It was a more difficult Friday than usual. The track grip was very low in the morning practice session, and the cars were sliding around quite a lot. Grip was still low in the afternoon, and even on the softer tyres the warm-up was slow and our car was not as well-balanced as it has been recently. The tyre testing that all teams took part in at the beginning of Free Practice 2 ran smoothly for us, but the remainder of the session was quite broken up by two red flags, and along with everyone else we missed a lot of our usual running. It wasn’t our best Friday, but we know what we need to focus on to get the most out of the car and the tyres for qualifying tomorrow.”
Raikkonen looked handy around this track in FP1, a surprise figure in the top 10 at the flag. Roll on second practice and the Finn fell back, although he at least comfortably had the beating of his team mate. Giovinazzi couldn’t get a clean lap in on the soft compound tyre in FP2 and thus wound up propping up the field.
Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:19.954, P8; FP2: 1:20.490, P15
“It was very slippery out there, but once conditions improve this should be a pretty nice track to drive. It’s a fun layout, although I honestly expected it to be a bit trickier before the weekend. The lack of grip was an issue, but I am sure the others were not that happy either. The track will evolve and we will find something to increase the grip – the conditions were already better in FP2, although we ended up losing a lot of time with the red flags. We’ll see what steps we can take tonight to be in a good shape for tomorrow.”
Antonio Giovinazzi - FP1: 1:21.009, P16; FP2: 1:21.396, P20
“I drove on this track in F3, but to go around here in a Formula 1 car is a completely different experience. It’s a really nice layout, with blind crests and challenging corners – a fun one to drive. The track was very green and the grip levels very low, which made especially the morning session quite difficult. In the afternoon, the red flag disrupted our programme as they stopped our low-fuel runs, so we didn’t really put a time together: we’ll only see tomorrow what our level really is.”
After grabbing the headlines yesterday, today was all about the on-track action. Grosjean was vociferous about the lack of grip and track limits, but did seem to settle down as the day wore on. With Magnussen likewise managing a good haul of laps, the team have plenty of data to analyse as they seek to avoid a Q1 exit in qualifying tomorrow.
Romain Grosjean - FP1: 1:21.169, P17; FP2: 1:20.867, P18
“I think it’s a really cool circuit, there’s a lot of up and downs, a lot of blind corners. It makes it hard to learn, if I’m being a hundred percent honest – I didn’t do any sim work, so my first laps were this morning. Things went ok, but I think the tarmac is quite new which makes it slippery. It’ll get better and better, for sure, especially in the near future – but maybe not for this event. The wind picked up a bit this afternoon. Using the prototype tyres at the beginning of FP2 wasn’t easy. It was good for Pirelli, but not for our run plan. Then we had a lot of red flags cutting our running short. It’s a cool track though and I’m happy we’re here. Portugal’s a great country and I think people are excited we’re here.”
Kevin Magnussen - FP1: 1:20.846, P14; FP2: 1:20.680, P16
“This place is pretty cool, in a way, but then today there was very low grip – which is kind of a shame, as you go slow. You’re running around and the car doesn’t feel very good. If it was high grip, this track would be really cool. Anyway, it’s been a normal kind of day for us. I struggled a little bit more on race pace, I need to see what’s going on there. It went reasonably well on low-fuel, but it’s on the high-fuel we need to find the problem. I don’t think we have issues that others don’t have, everybody’s struggled with grip, I think we just have it a little worse. That’s what we’ll try and work on tonight and see if we can find out why that is.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“It’s not been an easy day for us, we don’t really know where we’re at. We obviously had to test the prototype tyres from Pirelli in FP2, that also added to the unknowns from the day. The rest of the afternoon session was just interruption after interruption. It’s not been a very conclusive day. We’re for sure not where we wanted to be, but at least we’ve got some laps in. Now we need to look to figure out why we weren’t more competitive.”
Russell made very good use of the soft compound tyre in FP2 to catapult himself up to P11. There might be some drivers out of position but the youngster still made the best of the circumstances and nailed his lap when it mattered. He’ll hope for more of the same tomorrow. As for Latifi, the Canadian was in the wrong place at the wrong time more than once as he spent much of the day battling traffic, but still wound up a credible P14 in second practice.
George Russell – FP1: 1:21.374, P18; FP2: 1:19.821, P11
"It was a relatively productive day considering how many red flags there were. The track rubbered in incredibly quickly, those opening 20 minutes were really tricky, but then the grip levels felt really strong towards the end. I was really happy with my lap on the medium tyre which we ended P11. All in all, not a bad day.
"Looking further into the weekend I think we are going to be fighting with Haas and the Alfas again. As FP2 was thrown out of the window due to the red flags there are still a lot of unknows as none of us got any high fuel, long running."
Nicholas Latifi - FP1: 1:22.054, P20; FP2: 1:20.465, P14
"It was a really fun track to drive, it is always nice to come to circuits that you don’t have much experience on and discover them. FP1 was tricky, there was very poor grip out there which I am sure was the same for everyone. I really struggled to get a good consistent feel for the balance of the car. It was probably one of the most difficult sessions I have driven in all year. FP2 was very busy with everyone doing the Pirelli tyre testing in the opening laps and the second half was quite disrupted with red flags. We definitely have some work to do tonight, and a lot of data to go through and analyse."
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
"We’ve had a good day and although the sessions were a little interrupted, we got through much of our plans and have collected a lot of data. The tyre tests that we did for Pirelli meant that a lot of laps were completed early in FP2, and hopefully this will have helped rubber-in the track.
"The circuit has not disappointed and is proving to be an exciting and tricky race venue. We can still expect to see a lot of changes over the next couple of days as the track surface evolves and the teams and drivers understand the compromises that need to be made in order to be quick in Portimão.
"With many of the runs compromised today, there will probably be a lot of running in FP3 as everyone finalises their set-up for qualifying and the race. We still have a lot of work to do, but we have made a good start and have a good baseline to build on."
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing
"It was very useful for us to run the 2021 unmarked prototype tyres during the first 30 minutes of FP2 today, as we gathered plenty of data that will be relevant as we validate the tyre specification for next year. A big thank you to all the teams and drivers for undertaking this important test. As a result of doing the test, as well as the long interruptions to FP2 this afternoon, the teams completed less running than usual, and so there is a lack of data on long runs with the nominated race tyres. This will definitely be a challenge for the rest of the weekend as Portimao is a brand new track to the calendar that nobody is very familiar with. In the morning, due to the ‘green’ track, we experienced some graining – which was no big surprise under the circumstances. As expected, the situation improved over the rest of the day, with a lot of track evolution undoubtedly still to come as more rubber is laid down."