Max Verstappen felt Friday’s practice sessions at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza went ‘alright’ for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, but he expects a tough weekend to come due to their pace deficit compared to Scuderia Ferrari and Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport.
The Dutchman only completed ten laps in finishing seventh in the wet first session on Friday morning, before running twenty-eight laps in the afternoon, with his time of 1:22.154 good enough to place him fifth.
However, that time was more than a second down on the pace set by Sebastian Vettel, and even though he expects some improvements on Saturday, he is not expecting any miracles to beat any of the top four.
“It was alright today, the same conditions for everyone,” said Verstappen. “Luckily we had a dry second practice where we could try a few things.
“In Qualifying with dry conditions, I think we are too slow, but on the long runs it looks more positive. If it’s going to be enough to really fight, I don’t think so. From the car perspective the behaviour was good so of course I’m happy with that.
“But this is definitely the worst track for us, I don’t expect any miracles and we will try to make the best of it.”
Verstappen does not expect to run an alternative strategy during Qualifying as both the Soft and Supersoft Pirelli tyre seem to work really well in practice, so it will be up to the drivers to make the most of the session and get as high up the grid as possible.
“I don’t think it’s necessary to go with a different tyre strategy tomorrow as both compounds behaved really well,” said Verstappen. “I don’t expect any problems there and we will just have to try to have the best Qualifying possible.”
Verstappen is also unsure to whether Red Bull will opt to change his engine to the C-Specification one that his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo is using this weekend, although it will not earn him a penalty as it would be the last of his allocation should he make the switch.
“I don’t know yet whether we will use the C-Spec engine tomorrow, we will decide that overnight when we have looked at the data,” said Verstappen.
“We just have to keep pushing and try to improve our car and then we will see where we are.”