Increases in downforce and grip is effectively turning flat-out corners into straights, Max Verstappen said after qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.
2017 saw radical changes to Formula 1 cars, with 2018 seeing even more changes to increase the downforce and grip – including the addition of a new tyre compound. This allows drivers to take corners faster than ever before, and in some cases allows them to take a series of corners flat-out – thereby turning them into straights, says Verstappen.
Speaking after qualifying fifth (and almost seven tenths behind pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton), Verstappen said that these flat-out sections make the need for engine power even more critical, and that the gap to the front-runners was disappointing considering long-run pace.
“We all know in Qualifying the others turn up their engines so we just have to try and keep as close as we can,” said Verstappen. “You have to consider that from turn one to turn four is flat out now, also turn seven to turn ten. It is like having two more straights out there so relies even more on the engine power. We still have a good chance in the race as long runs look good, it is just a shame to be this far off on Saturdays.”
Commenting further on his performance in qualifying, the young Dutchman said that whilst he felt he could have perhaps made it to fourth, any higher wouldn’t have been possible.
“The updates have made a difference which is a positive and shows we are heading in the right direction,” said the Dutchman. “I had a moment in turn one on my last run which meant I couldn’t finish it, I lost the rear and therefore ruined the lap. I think that lap could have been our best time but we still wouldn’t have made the top three, perhaps fourth was achievable but fifth is not too bad.
“The conditions were very tricky out there, the track was unpredictable and it was unclear which tyre to go with. The supersoft and the soft are really close to each other in terms of performance so it’s hard to choose a direction in Qualifying. Soft looks like the quicker tyre ahead of tomorrow over distance. This isn’t usually a strong track for overtaking so maybe it will come down to the pit stops, or a bit of rain could mix it up. We will try our best.”