Max reflects on Friday practice: 'Couldn't see anything above 250km/h'

Published on 30 April 2021 by Stefan Meens

Following the first two practice sessions of the Portuguese Grand Prix, Max Verstappen caught up with Ziggo Sport’s Olav Mol to discuss the upcoming weekend. They spoke after Max finished second in both the first and second Friday practice sessions.

It looks like the track surface does not provide a lot of grip. Max: “Yes, it’s similar to last year and we sort of expected it. If you look at the MotoGP lap times, theirs were similar between their race last year and the one this year, so it’s not a real surprise.”

You finished both practice sessions in second, is that the full picture? “You know, if a track is this difficult with the slippery surface, it’s really difficult to find a decent balance, because it’s more about tyre temps and how the tyres behave. The tyres react totally different here than on other circuits, so this weekend won’t reflect what we’ve seen at the previous two races because the grip conditions are so abnormal.”

So it was not the easiest of sessions. On the radio you talked about a ‘handbrake effect’? “Yeah, that was the least of our worries because we also bolted on new tyres that Pirelli had not balanced correctly. So anywhere above 250km/h, I couldn’t see anything. It was crazy how much it vibrated. I don’t complain quickly, but this was undoable.”

Was there a brake-by-wire issue in FP2? “Yes, I had to go back to the pits and it was easily fixed, but it’s not ideal. It meant that run was interrupted, which isn’t great when it’s all about maintaining tyre temperature. But on the other hand, we just have to get through this weekend until we’re back at a normal circuit.”

Many describe this track as a rollercoaster because of its undulating character. Can you feel the 16m drop down the hill? “To be honest, not this year. But it’s cool, it’s an amazing circuit, but I just wish we had normal grip. So this year I don’t feel anything when the track dips.”

Your Red Bull Racing team mate Sergio Perez said that the car is good enough for pole position. “We’ll have to improve a bit more. The Mercedes looks a bit easier and Lewis hasn’t done a proper lap. Neither did we, but we’re behind them so we have our work cut out. But like last year, they look really strong here. Somehow this track doesn’t really suit us with the grip conditions. It’s all a bit more sensitive so we’ll have to improve.

What are your thoughts on Sunday? “We’ll see, we’ll have to keep scoring points every weekend and there will be plenty more races this season so it’s no problem."

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