Max Verstappen is happy to see that Red Bull Racing’s upgrades have driven them closer to Scuderia Ferrari, but it is evident that they are still a way behind the dominant Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team.
It also means that they remain the third placed team on the grid.
But the time separating the Dutchman from leader Lewis Hamilton was a little over a second in Free Practice 1, which is considerably closer than it has been during previous races.
“I think it looks like we have closed the gap a little bit to Ferrari so this is a big positive, but it looks like Mercedes have brought a good update package as well so they are still quite far ahead,” he said. “We are still the third team but the changes are taking us in the right direction and we have found an increase in grip.
“We still have a lot of work to do to improve the pace of the car and also the performance of the engine so we will keep pushing.”
Verstappen was one of a few drivers to comment on the surprising windy conditions that arrived during the afternoon. This caused a few hair-raising moments for the young driver but luckily nothing that cost him the session.
“There was a lot of unexpected wind out there which caused a few issues,” he continued. “I was at full lock in turn 9 and suddenly a gust caught the rear and forced me off the track and through the gravel, luckily there was not much damage.
“I saw a few guys get caught out by the wind.”
Barcelona will be the first track to truly test the tyres’ supposed low degradation, which will be another challenge to the drivers.
The final sector is likely to be the deciding factor.
“This circuit is always quite hard on the tires so the last sector is usually quite tricky but the wind definitely did not help,” he added.