Red Bull boss Christian Horner has admitted he believes his team is competing for only the third row of the grid for Sunday’s British Formula 1 Grand Prix.
A mixed day for the Milton Keynes based squad saw Daniel Ricciardo the best of the non-Mercedes and Ferrari drivers while Max Verstappen suffered a gearbox failure before spinning out of Practice 2.
Neither were able to match the pace of those ahead, a situation Horner expects to continue going into qualifying on Saturday.
“Saturday is tough for us,” Horner conceded to Sky Sports.
“This track now, you are flat out for such large parts of it.
“Copse is easy flat now, Turn 1 here is flat, I mean with DRS that’s going to be quite interesting in quali.
“Such large portions that are full throttle that it’s just not playing to our strengths, especially when you’ve got a corner in there where you’ve got some scrub on the car, that’s where the more powerful engines are able to pull the car out of that.
“We’re probably staring down the barrel of a third row here, but in the race we’re always better on race day and I’m confident that can be the case again.”
A spin for Verstappen at the exit of Luffield ended his second practice session early after he damaged the right rear corner of the car after little more than a quarter of an hour.
Yet to set a time, it was just his second lap on track, the incident forcing him into a spectator role for the balance of the session.
“I think I wanted to be too quick on the hard tyre, so I just lost it and unfortunately the way you then hit the wall it just rips off the right rear,” explained Verstappen.
“In the end of the day it’s not ideal to lose the second session, but the feeling I had before that was actually quite good.
“I think balance wise we are not too far off, it’s just we are losing a lot of lap time on the straight.”
Horner explained that the damage on Verstappen’s was not overly concerning, despite the rear corner having taken the brunt of the impact.
“The damage isn’t too bad to be honest with you,” he explained.
“It’s not the race gearbox or anything like that, it’s just annoying to lose that amount of track time.
“On that hard tyre he got into a slide, it looked like he gripped up; it looked like a motorcycle high-side in many respects and then it just chucked the car in the other direction.
“Annoyingly frustrating, but we still got some good data from Daniel’s car.”
Ricciardo ended the day’s running with a 1:28.144s lap in Practice 1, before slowing to a 1:28.408s lap as he fell from fourth to fifth.
Verstappen was sixth fastest in Practice 1, his best time of the day a 1:28.325s.
Practice continues on Saturday at 1900 AEST prior to the 60-minute qualifying session at 2300 AEST.