Max Verstappen has said a number of changes Red Bull made to the car ahead of FP2 this evening “didn’t quite work,” and left the Dutchman running .1s off the pace.
He went second fastest on the early timesheets with a lap in 1:29.842s and manage to fit in 23 laps at the brand new circuit.
However, during FP2 – after changes were made – Verstappen could only go fourth fastest but says the team will work overnight to see if they can get more pace out of his RB16B.
“Overall, it’s a really cool track, there are a lot of fast corners and it’s fun to drive,” Verstappen said.
“We struggled to get heat into the tyres in FP2, which we will of course look into.
“Then we made a few changes from FP1 to FP2 which didn’t quite work but hopefully we can find the right balance come qualifying tomorrow.
“There are of course a lot of things to work on and improve so we’ll see what we can do to get more pace out of the car overnight.”
Speaking about tomorrow’s potential, the championship leader said traffic may be an issue “in general” and says he doesn’t know what will come in Qualifying.
“Looking ahead to qualifying, I think it might be quite difficult with the traffic but in general it’s hard to tell how Saturday is going to go as anything can happen but we’ll push hard and give it everything.”
Meanwhile, Sergio Perez is looking forward to Sunday’s race and says the challenges thrown up by the new track will make for an interesting battle.
“It was a lot of fun out there today, it’s a really nice circuit, it is very fast and enjoyable to drive. It is going to be tricky in qualifying with traffic management, we saw that a bit when everyone was on the soft tyre at the end of FP2.
“I think it will be an interesting race because this track is challenging, if you make a mistake it can be extremely costly. In qualifying it will all be about trying to be in the right place at the right time.
“On the long runs we didn’t have enough laps to get a real read on how we will perform so I don’t think my time on the soft tyres was reflective on where we actually are.
“I think there is plenty more to come from the car, so hopefully we can find the right balance and pace to be in contention in qualifying. It is going to be hard to achieve the perfect lap out there but we also have a long race ahead of us on Sunday and anything can happen.