Verstappen expects to fight Mercedes, but not Ferrari, at Spa

Max Verstappen expects to challenge Mercedes in the Belgian Grand Prix, but believes Ferrari may be out of reach on evidence of Friday practice running.

Verstappen expects to fight Mercedes, but not Ferrari, at Spa

Ferrari locked out the top two in both of Friday’s sessions, with pace-setter Charles Leclerc more than eight tenths clear of both Mercedes cars over one lap.

Red Bull driver Verstappen ended the day 1.271s off the pace, slower than all of his usual rivals as well as Racing Point’s Sergio Perez – and though the top cars were much more evenly matched on long runs, the Dutchman is doubtful that Ferrari can be toppled this weekend.

“I think this track definitely suits them a bit better than us, they are very strong, they gain a lot of time on the straight here but that is not a surprise,” said Verstappen of Ferrari.

“We try to do the best we can from our side. Today was not amazing as we had to run with lower power all day compared to the normal mode we use on a Friday, but in general I am quite happy with the car balance.

“I don’t expect to beat Ferrari but hopefully we can be closer to Mercedes, as it seems like they are a bit down to Ferrari.”

Asked whether Red Bull could still find a better balance between low drag for the straights and downforce for the corners in the twisty middle sector, Verstappen said: "I don’t think there is much you can do now.

"Everyone is running really low downforce, so I think the next step we can do is take the wing off – but I don’t think that is really smart."

While new teammate Alexander Albon debuted the upgraded ‘Spec 4’ Honda in the RB15 on Friday – and is thus set to start from the back of the grid – Verstappen is continuing with an older power unit.

The Dutchman repeatedly reported a loss of power throughout FP2, but has indicated this was due to the mileage previously accrued by his Friday unit.

“My engine was a bit older and around here it’s quite hard on the engine, so you need to be safe with them,” he explained.

“We still have another engine – that engine we'll use tomorrow, and then we’ll see. Ferrari will be very strong, [but] from our side we can go a lot faster as well. Today we didn’t have our normal performance.

“It’s not a concern. We knew it was coming up. Of course you have few engines you can use [over a season], and of course some of them are getting a bit older.”

shares
comments
Belgian GP: Leclerc outpaces Vettel by 0.6s in FP2

Previous article

Belgian GP: Leclerc outpaces Vettel by 0.6s in FP2

Next article

Albon had to "rewire brain" to drive Red Bull car

Albon had to "rewire brain" to drive Red Bull car
Load comments
Why unseen Hungary heroics could be Latifi's making Prime

Why unseen Hungary heroics could be Latifi's making

The chaotic start to the Hungarian GP set the scene for F1's less heralded drivers to make a name for themselves. Esteban Ocon did just that to win in fine style, but further down the order one driver was making his first visit to the points and - while the circumstances were fortunate - took full advantage of the chance presented to him

Formula 1
Aug 3, 2021
Hungarian Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Hungarian Grand Prix driver ratings

This was race that showcased the best and worst of Formula 1, producing a first time winner and a memorable comeback to a podium finish. Avoiding trouble at the start and astute strategy calls were key to success, but where some drivers took full advantage, others made key errors that cost them dearly

Formula 1
Aug 2, 2021
The "heart-breaking" call that led to Ocon's Hungarian GP triumph Prime

The "heart-breaking" call that led to Ocon's Hungarian GP triumph

Set to restart the red-flagged Hungarian Grand Prix in second, Esteban Ocon had some doubts when he peeled into the pits to swap his intermediate tyres for slicks. But this "heart-breaking" call was vindicated in spectacular fashion as the Alpine driver staved off race-long pressure from Sebastian Vettel for a memorable maiden Formula 1 victory

Formula 1
Aug 2, 2021
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Prime

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Formula 1
Jul 31, 2021
Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track' Prime

Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track'

Mercedes ended Friday practice at the Hungaroring with a clear gap to Red Bull thanks to Valtteri Bottas’s pace in topping FP2. But there are other reasons why the Black Arrows squad feels satisfied with its progress so far at a track many Formula 1 observers reckon favours Red Bull overall...

Formula 1
Jul 30, 2021
How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks Prime

How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks

OPINION: Red Bull was justified to be upset that Lewis Hamilton survived his British GP clash with Max Verstappen and went on to win. But its attempts to lobby the FIA to reconsider the severity of Hamilton's in-race penalty were always likely to backfire, and have only succeeded in creating a PR disaster that will distract from its on-track efforts

Formula 1
Jul 30, 2021
The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach Prime

The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach

OPINION: It wasn't just the Verstappen/Hamilton clash that had the Red Bull and Mercedes bosses at loggerheads at Silverstone, with the nature of Formula 1's 2025 engines also subject for disagreement. But hopes to have loud, emotive engines that are also environmentally friendly don't have to be opposed.

Formula 1
Jul 29, 2021
How Lotus uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’ Prime

How Lotus uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’

Cast in the mould of its founder Colin Chapman, Lotus was powerful and daring but flawed – as it proved through further soaring peaks and painful troughs into the 1980s. DAMIEN SMITH examines a game-changing era

Formula 1
Jul 27, 2021