It was a good opening day at the Qatar Grand Prix for championship leader Max Verstappen, who ended the day third fastest and ahead of his championship rival. Team-mate Sergio Pérez was a disappointing eighth at the Losail International Circuit.
It was a strong opening day in Qatar for Verstappen, the Dutchman is one of the eighteen drivers in the paddock who have never raced at the circuit before, leaving much to be learnt. Verstappen got to grips with circuit quickly though, and topped the timesheets after First Free Practice. The Dutchman couldn’t repeat this feat in the evening, eventually ending the day in third place, just ahead of title rival Lewis Hamilton who was fourth.
Verstappen thoroughly enjoyed the opening day at Qatar where he found a big difference between the medium and soft tyres.
“I’ve had a lot of fun driving today, I think it’s a really cool track. FP2 was the first time we could test on the track in the evening so it was important to see how the car would react. There was quite a big change between the medium and the soft tyre for me, the soft tyre wasn’t amazing but it’s the first time here so there are a lot of things to understand.
“It’s difficult to say what will happen during the race with these cars, it’s tough to follow but I think over one lap it’s going to be good. Let’s see what happens this weekend, there’s still a lot of things to look at as everything is still so new.”
“The margins are very small” – Sergio Pérez
Sergio Pérez had a tough opening day based on the timesheets, the Mexican finished both free practice sessions in eighth place but only +0.3s behind his team-mate, times are appearing to be incredibly close at the Losail International Circuit.
The Mexican is one of two drivers to have actually raced at the track before, albeit back in 2009 in the GP2 Asia Series. Pérez is happy with how his weekend in the desert has started, however the Mexican does believe work needs to be done on the balance of his car.
“I have driven this track before when I was younger and it is slowly starting to come back to me now I have been out there, I don’t feel that has put me at any advantage over others. I think we had a good start today but we have implemented some changes across the sessions and we need to review those, especially on the soft tyre. The margins are very small, hopefully we can be strong come qualifying tomorrow evening.
“It is an interesting place, especially from day to night, it is very different. It is not an easy track and tomorrow we expect the wind to change so it will be interesting to see what happens. I think we have some work to do overnight, we are not entirely happy with the balance of the car, so we will look at amending that before the morning. The next representative session will be qualifying so we will try to get the best out of analysing FP2 this evening and push on positively.”