ADVERTISEMENT
BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 02: Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 02, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Verstappen: Short runs and long runs look good

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 02: Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 02, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Max Verstappen had little to say apart from the usual PR soundbites after the first day of practice for the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix, the Red Bull driver doing his talking on track, claiming a clean sweep of both sessions on Friday at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Verstappen’s first statement came with his first flying lap in FP1, which set an early benchmark and getting quicker until he topped the time sheets at the end of FP2, ending dayn one in Spain a tenth and a half faster than his closest pursuer, local hero Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin.

Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull, was fourth fastest, three-tenths of a second down on Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix winner.

ADVERTISEMENT

In his team’s Friday report, Verstappen said: “We had a good day. 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.”

As for ditching the awkward chicane at the end of the lap, the Barcelona track was returned to its full glory with the fast double right-hander leading onto the straight, hence lap times were almost ten seconds quicker on the new layout.

Verstappen acknowledged the improvement: “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.”

Perez: We have to turn up a gear for Quali

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 02: Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 in the Pitlane during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 02, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

In the other Red Bull, Perez, who had to quickly put behind him an awful weekend in Monaco, reported: “We always try a lot of stuff in Barcelona because it is always the most representative track we visit and puts the whole season together.

“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,” added Perez.

Verstappen is the outright favourite to claim pole position in Qualifying on Saturday, with Perez probably the only one who could change the script but will need to find a substantial three-tenths on such a short lap to pose a real threat.

The romantics may point to a fired-up Fernando Alonso and his massively impressive Aston Martin upsetting the form book, even spurred on by Spain the veteran will be hard pushed to dethrone Verstappen whose in imperial form right now.