Max Verstappen said after Friday’s second Formula 1 practice session at Le Castellet that he had found free practice very difficult, while Sergio Perez had problems and finished the second session in tenth place. Potential disaster coming for Red Bull?
Both free practice sessions on Friday were good for the Ferraris, with Charles Leclerc setting the fastest time in the first session ahead of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz topping the second session just ahead of his team-mate. Verstappen finished third, more than half a second behind Carlos Sainz.
“I think that the second session was a bit more difficult for us,” said the current championship leader. “We just didn’t really find the balance we were hoping for, but we’re also trying a few things with the car. So we’ll look at all that for tomorrow and of course try to be closer than we were today.”
“On the long stints it’s a little bit better but again, the tyres really heat up and it’s very difficult to really judge where you are. But of course we know that we still have some work to do,” said the Dutch driver.
On the subject of tyre degradation, Max Verstappen is unsure whether it is as bad as it was in Austria. “Overall, this track is very hard on the tyres anyway, so I think you can’t compare it to Austria, but I think in general we all need a few more laps to really get a good view of the long run.”
Team-mate Sergio Perez faced a difficult start to the weekend. The Mexican finished sixth in EL1 and tenth in EL2, 1.5 seconds behind the leader. He said he had a problem with his car that did not allow him to get representative results.
“We’re a little bit behind, I had a little problem with one of the anti-roll bars but nothing major,” said the Red Bull driver, “I didn’t get to use the soft tyres much but hopefully tomorrow we can do what we need to do to be in the fight.”
“Clearly I’m not very comfortable at the moment with the car. I think there is some work to do tonight to understand it, and we will try to make the best of it for tomorrow’s qualifying and race,” concluded Sergio Perez.
With the Ferrari known for its extraordinary low tyre degradation characteristics, coupled with Red Bull’s issues, particularly with Perez, France could well be a diasaster for the team based on Friday. Red Bull can’t afford to have Perez start the race too low down the grid when the Italian team is so strong and Carlos Sainz hit with a grid penalty.