Max Verstappen: “We are improving step by step”

It was a positive day for Scuderia Toro Rosso and Max Verstappen on day three of the pre-season test at the Circuit de Catalunya, with the Dutch teenager breaking through the 100-lap barrier for the first time and setting the second fastest time of the day using the Pirelli Supersoft tyre.

Despite finishing second fastest, Verstappen felt he is still finding improvements as he continues his Formula 1 development programme, and feels far more confident and comfortable behind the wheel than he did during the first test in Jerez two weeks ago.

“A good session and the first time I’ve done over a hundred laps in a single day,” said Verstappen. “We got through a lot of items on the job sheet, with some faster runs in the morning. The car felt really good and it seems we are improving the car step by step.

“Compared to after the first test in Jerez, I feel more confident and more comfortable with the car, as I start to learn about every aspect of the job. Now, I’m really looking forward to seeing what the engineers can come up with for the final test here next week.”

Chief Race Engineer Phil Charles knows that times at this stage of testing mean very little with teams focusing on their own programmes, but felt day three in Spain was useful both for the team and for Verstappen as he continues to adapt to the way of Formula 1.

“A very interesting and useful day, with much fewer problems than yesterday, which is why Max completed more laps than any of the other drivers,” said Charles. “Second fastest? We are not looking at lap times yet, but that was just the natural result of running the Supersoft Pirelli.

“In fact we worked with many different tyre types today, which was useful for Max. He did a mix of short and long runs and practiced various race procedures that are new to him, including “lift off,” the technique for saving fuel during periods of a Grand Prix.”

Charles revealed that the reason for Verstappen stopping on track late in the day was the result of the intense pit stop practice the Dutchman had performed, citing the clutch had given up the ghost.

“He also had plenty of pit stop practice and that’s what caused him to stop just before the end of the day, as the clutch had had enough,” revealed Charles. “It was a case of having worn the car out with all that work rather than a technical problem. Hopefully, Carlos can have an equally productive day tomorrow.”