Despite the warmer temperatures at Silverstone on Friday, Max Verstappen still believes the gap to the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team at the front of the field is too big, but he insists his Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team are doing everything they can to close in on their rivals.
The Dutchman ended third fastest, seven-tenths of a second adrift of Valtteri Bottas, in first practice for this weekend’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, and despite improving his time in the afternoon, he fell to fourth overall, more than eight tenths behind Lewis Hamilton.
Verstappen admits it was always going to be impossible to close the gap to Mercedes at the front of the field in just a week, but overall, it was a positive Friday for the twenty-two-year-old.
“We did everything we wanted to today so I’m pretty pleased with that and overall it has been alright,” said Verstappen. “The gap to Mercedes last weekend was big, so of course I think it’s quite normal that we can’t magically change things within a few days, but we are doing what we can.
“We tried a few things with the car, I think some were really decent, but we will of course have to go through it properly tonight and see tomorrow.”
Verstappen feels he could be in for another lonely race this weekend, although unlike in the British Grand Prix, the tyre allocation is certain to mix up the strategies, particularly with the softest tyre available unlikely to be a tyre many use on Sunday.
“I think it could be quite close in qualifying with the group behind but then in the race it could be quite lonely again,” he added. “The softer tyres had a lot more degradation today and I think it’s almost impossible to do a one stop now.
“I guess you will see a lot of two stop strategies in the race but I don’t expect the change in tyres to really set the order any differently.”
“We’re making progress session by session” – Alexander Albon
Team-mate Alexander Albon continued to make progress during the two practice sessions, even though he ended up around half a second away from Verstappen in both, finishing sixth in the morning and eleventh in the afternoon.
After struggling through the British Grand Prix weekend, the Thai driver came into this weekend aiming to make better use of his RB16, and he completed forty-seven laps across the two sessions to gather information that he hopes will make for a stronger all-round performance.
“We’re making progress session by session in terms of trying to get what I want from the car and now we just need to do our homework tonight to come back stronger tomorrow,” said Albon.
“It was a pretty straightforward day and we played around with a few things to see what helped and what didn’t.”
Albon is not a fan of the tyre compound choices made by Pirelli this weekend, feeling they are too soft for the Silverstone circuit, and the speed on the medium tyres means it is possible that they will not touch the soft compound that often for the rest of the weekend.
“This weekend the tyre compounds are a step softer which I’m not a huge fan of as I think they’re too soft for this circuit,” said the Thai driver. “Let’s see what everyone does tomorrow but I think it’s quicker to run on the mediums than the softs.
“The thing is we only have a certain number of medium and hard tyres for the weekend which means you’re a little stuck with strategy, so it will be important tomorrow which tyre you decide to run in each qualifying session.
“It’s only Friday and everyone’s hiding something today so tomorrow we’ll get a truer picture.”