Max Verstappen suffered a spin at the Ascari Chicane during the first practice session at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza that saw him with a broken front wing against the barriers, and the Dutchman admits the team has been suffering with balance issues all day long.
The nature of the Monza track requires an unique low-downforce set-up configuration, and Verstappen said it was not a great start to the weekend for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, with quite a bit of work to do in order to move him closer to the front of the field.
Verstappen ended fifth fastest in both free practice sessions on Friday, and he was around a second away from the pace set by the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team both times.
“We are struggling with general balance and grip today, so we have quite a bit of work to do and it wasn’t the best start to the weekend,” said Verstappen.
“We were all trying to find the limits out on track and at Turn 11 if you have a bit of a moment then it is better to just let the car run wide as it doesn’t really matter during practice, which is why lots of us were having times deleted.
“The Team fixed my car quickly during FP1 and I didn’t have any affects from that in FP2 so there are no concerns there. I’m not too sure yet how the tyre wear will be but normally if you have a balanced car then the tyre wear will be ok, so we need to find that balance before qualifying.”
“I think there’s potential to improve our package here” – Alexander Albon
From the outside, team-mate Alexander Albon appeared to have a far more difficult day, although the Thai driver said it was not as bad as it looked.
Albon ended third fastest in the morning session at Monza but fell to fourteenth in the afternoon, although his best lap time was deleted due to exceeding track limits at turn eleven.
The twenty-four-year-old, who is still seeking his first Formula 1 podium finish, says there is potential to improve the RB16 at Monza this weekend, with only a few minor changes likely needed to make him a genuine contender at the front of the field.
“I was feeling okay in the morning session and the afternoon wasn’t bad, we just need to touch up a few things on the car for the low and high-speed corners,” said Albon. “It’s very close out there just as we expected and I think a tenth could be the difference between three or four positions.
“We know we’ve got some homework to do so we can fine tune the car balance to where we want it to be but I think there’s potential to improve our package here. My best lap in FP2 was deleted for exceeding track limits in Turn 11 which happened to a lot of us today.
“What we’re seeing is people backing up into you in the last corner as they start their lap and so you get their dirty air and then you struggle to stay tight to the corner. Obviously everyone is trying to make a gap to start their lap but it should be a little easier when qualifying starts because everyone is pushing at the same time.”