Work to do for Red Bull on ‘super slippery’ Portimao says Verstappen – but Perez eyes pole
Max Verstappen finished runner-up in both Friday sessions of the Portuguese Grand Prix but said after FP2 he was worried about a lack of grip at Portimao – though team mate Sergio Perez says Red Bull should be in the fight for pole come tomorrow’s qualifying session.
Mercedes swept the day’s pair of sessions in Portugal with Valtteri Bottas top in FP1 and Lewis Hamilton top in FP2, and narrowly behind them was Verstappen in an upgraded RB16B. And after the day's running, the Dutchman’s concerns were not with the Silver Arrows’ pace, nor the effectiveness of his team’s new upgrades, but Portimao’s slick surface.
After finishing 0.143s off Hamilton in FP2, Verstappen said: “Yeah, it was alright, just very tricky out there with the tarmac again. It’s super slippery. I know it’s the same for everyone but it’s not really enjoyable to drive.
“And of course, the tyres have changed and of course we’ve lost a bit of grip from the car compared to last year but yeah, it’s very tricky out there and it’s a shame. Because it’s all about tyre prep, tyre temperature, and it shouldn’t be like that, but like I said before, it’s the same for everyone.”
Team mate Perez, who finished third in FP1 behind Verstappen and 10th in FP2 having been blocked on a flying lap by Nikita Mazepin, was rather more optimistic – even if he echoed Verstappen’s concerns over the lack of grip.
“I think we have pretty good pace so definitely we should be in the mix tomorrow to fight for pole,” he said.
“It’s pretty hard, you know, getting the tyres to work in these conditions is not easy so I think the main focus will be to understand what’s going on with the tyres. I think the pace with the mediums was good, but when we went on to the softs we didn’t find any laptime, which we have to analyse what went wrong on that set and yeah, hopefully sort it out for qualifying.”
Perez hopes to replicate – or better – his front-row qualifying performance from Imola here at Portimao, but the Mexican has ground to make up after a tough race last time out. As for Verstappen, he’s just one point behind Hamilton in the drivers' standings, which emphasises just how crucial it will be for Red Bull to keep the pressure on Mercedes in FP3 and qualifying on Saturday.