Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Verstappen Pleased with ‘Good Day’ in Spain with RB19 ‘In a Good Window’

Max Verstappen was delighted with his opening day of the Spanish Grand Prix on Friday, with the Dutchman topping both free practice sessions.

The Oracle Red Bull Racing driver, who holds a commanding advantage at the top of the Drivers’ Championship after his fourth win in six races last weekend in Monaco, was more than seven-tenths of a second clear of the pack in the first session, although it was much tighter in the second as he edged out Fernando Alonso by just under two-tenths of a second.

Verstappen was able to experience the faster layout of the final two corners for the first time on Friday, and he felt it was an improvement on the previous configuration, which involved a chicane.

And he felt able to follow other cars through the turns, which he believes is a good thing when it comes to potential overtaking on Sunday afternoon.

“We had a good day today,” said Verstappen.  “The car was in a good window and of course we will try to fine tune a few things here and there but the short runs and long runs look good.

“The last two corners are better and more fun to drive, F1 cars feel much better at high speed. I tried to follow a few cars through there as well and it seemed okay, I’m positively surprised by the overtaking opportunities.

“I still need to look at the data and see how the other cars compare but today was a good day.”

“There is plenty of information for us to look at overnight” – Sergio Pérez

Sergio Pérez also felt it was a good day on his side of the garage, even though he was a little bit behind his team-mate in both of the practice sessions at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

The Mexican was almost eight tenths of a second behind Verstappen in the opening hour of practice but was second fastest overall, and he closed that gap down to under four tenths in the second session, although he slipped to fourth overall.

Pérez feels the final sector is tougher now on the neck due to the faster corners and increased G-forces, something that will come into play more on Sunday, but overall, it was a good day for him that leaves with many positives to take into the rest of the weekend.

“We always try a lot of stuff in Barcelona, because it is always the most representative track we visit and really puts the whole season together,” said Pérez.  “The new variation on the last two corners is quite tough on the neck, but obviously it was a very short day and I think we will feel it more on Sunday, it could be tricky on the muscles!

“Today was a good day, there is plenty of information for us to look at overnight. All in all I think there were lots of positives to take but we have to turn up a gear for Quali, as well as try to understand the tyres for the long run.

“This will be key for Sunday with the tyre degradation around this track.”

Sergio Pérez ended fourth fastest in the second session in Spain – Credit: David Ramos/Getty Images