Red Bull trailed Ferrari in the opening two practice sessions in France and that saw Max Verstappen explain why he found Friday so challenging, while Sergio Perez encountered his own difficulties in a compromised FP2 session.
Ferrari ended Friday in France on a high after Charles Leclerc led FP1 ahead of Verstappen before Carlos Sainz led FP2 ahead of teammate Leclerc. In the second session, Verstappen was third, more than half a second behind Sainz.
FP2: Sainz leads Ferrari teammate Leclerc by 0.1s in the second French GP practice session
“I think FP2 was a bit more difficult for us,” said championship leader Verstappen. “We just didn’t get the balance we were hoping for, but we’re also trying a few things with the car. So we’ll look at everything tomorrow and of course try to be closer than today.
“It’s a bit better on the long runs, but here too the tires run very hot and it’s very difficult to assess where you really stand. But of course we know that we still have a bit of work ahead of us.”
Max Verstappen “didn’t find the balance I was hoping for” in Friday training.
Whether tire degradation will be as severe as in Austria, where Verstappen set a best in qualifying and the sprint before falling to second place behind Leclerc in the Grand Prix, the Dutchman wasn’t sure.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I mean, overall this track is very hard on the tyres, so I don’t think you can compare it to Austria, but I think in general we all needed a few more laps to really ride and look good in the long run .
Teammate Perez was sixth in FP1, 1.2s off the pace, and 10th in FP2 – 1.5s off him – as he faced a challenging start to the weekend. The Mexican revealed that a problem with his car meant he couldn’t pull off a representative run on soft tyres.
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“We basically had some delays, nothing really going on, a small issue with one of the stabilizers but nothing major,” he said. “It was a very short stint on that soft tire but it is what it is and hopefully tomorrow we’ll be able to put it all together and be in the fight.
“Of course I don’t feel very comfortable with the car at the moment. I think there is still some work and understanding to be done tonight and we will try to get the best bits out for qualifying and tomorrow’s race.”