Max Verstappen is encouraged by Red Bull Racing’s long run pace but says there’s work to do to close the gap to Scuderia Ferrari.
Verstappen had a solid Free Practice 1 session and set a time of 1:31:673 to finish fifth, almost a second off young Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc at the top of the time sheets.
It was the same story in Free Practice 2, with Verstappen setting a time of 1:29:725, finishing sixth fastest with the two prancing horses a full second ahead and in first and second.
Verstappen remains confident that the long runs Red Bull put in on the medium tyre will help them challenge during the race even though the team were outpaced by both Ferrari and Mercedes.
“On the longer runs we also looked competitive on the medium tyre which should be the most dominant tyre for the race.” said Verstappen.
“We still have a bit of set-up work to do, especially as we will probably only get one timed lap on the tyres in qualifying.
“It also looks like the issues Ferrari had in Melbourne have been resolved, they look fastest at the moment so we need to work to close that gap.”
Despite his solid performance in both practice sessions, young driver Verstappen thought he could have done more.
He alluded to having a small issue which cost valuable time and says the Red Bull team will work hard overnight to improve in Saturday’s qualifying session.
“Today was ok but it could have been better. On the medium tyre we look pretty competitive and I should have been fastest on my first short run but I had a little issue at the last corner which lost me two or three tenths.
“On the softest tyre I just didn’t have enough grip, so we need to look into that and extract more out of it.”