Max Verstappen impressed with good long runs on Friday, but did not get past P5 in the timesheets. She told the Dutchman that he still had to find a better balance between the race and qualifying when it came to set-up. Red Bull then shifted the focus a bit more to speed over a lap, which seemed to pay off immediately in the third practice session. Verstappen conceded Charles Leclerc only 0.072 seconds, which gives him hope for the otherwise important pole position in Barcelona.
In Q1, Verstappen sat for the third time, after which he was able to take command in Q2 with P1 – although it should be noted that Verstappen completed a run more than Leclerc and the Mercedes men in the closing stages. Those differences were erased in the crucial part of qualifying, although the title contenders suffered further setbacks. Leclerc, for example, made a mistake in his first run, but Verstappen’s problems would only increase. The Limburger missed DRS in his second run and had to stop it prematurely.
When asked if this problem cost him pole position, Verstappen replies: “Of course it’s difficult to say, but at least I couldn’t do my last run. The DRS didn’t open, so at first it felt like I was missing. All in all, it’s positive that we’re in the front row here. If you look at our entire weekend, I think it was a good result on Saturday, although I would have liked to have tried in the last few minutes. “
Missing that last run puts Verstappen on the dirty side of the grid. That doesn’t necessarily make it easy at a track where overtaking is difficult, although Red Bull’s long runs appear good. In addition, Verstappen has been able to combine good race pace with limited tire wear over the past few weekends. Does that also give hope for the race on Sunday? “We handled the tires well in the last few races, yes. It’s going to be very hot tomorrow and overtaking will be difficult here anyway, but we’ll have to see what’s possible. Hopefully our car will handle the tires a bit better but I have to say it’s difficult to predict given these weather conditions.”