Max Verstappen had a very good start to the Grand Prix race weekend in Portimao. He set the second fastest lap time in the first free practice session. He also took this in FP2.
Nevertheless, the Dutchman was not very happy with the track conditions, finding them “super slippery” and “not very pleasant to drive”.
The staging of the race this year gave hope for better track conditions and higher temperatures, but the first sessions were rather the opposite. Last year the track was wet and “barely passable” according to many drivers.
This year, too, the drivers, especially Max Verstappen, complained about the track conditions.
“It’s just very tricky out here with the tarmac again, which is super slippery. I know it’s the same for everyone but it’s not very enjoyable to drive. The car felt alright, but still some work to do for tomorrow, that’s for sure, but overall, it’s fine.”
“Of course, the tires have changed, and of course we lost a bit of grip from the cars compared to last year, but it’s very tricky out there. It’s a shame because it’s all about tire prep, tire temperatures and it shouldn’t be like that. But like I said before, it’s the same for everyone.”
The teams are allowed to use the three hardest tire types C1, C2 and C3 this weekend.
“Generally, it feels like we came here last year, and the tire was too hard, and we come here again this year with the same tire pretty much. So, it feels like we’ve come with a too-hard compound, in my opinion. I think it should’ve been mid-range, C2, C3, C4. But everyone’s on the same one so we’ll get through it somehow.”
Sergio Perez, the second Red Bull driver, was half a second slower than Verstappen on Friday. He finished FP1 in P3 and FP2 in P10. He says the team’s focus would now be on the tires.
“Basically, it’s very similar to where we were last year, tarmac-wise,” Perez said. “It’s pretty hard getting the tires to work in these conditions, it is not easy. So, I think the main focus will be to understand what’s going on with the tires.”
“I think the pace on the medium was good. But then when we went on to the soft and we didn’t find any lap time. We have to analyse what went wrong on that set, and hopefully sort it out for qualifying.”