Verstappen seeking ‘buffer’ after rollercoaster Monaco ride

Max Verstappen endured a down then up day in Monaco but needs more of a buffer to Ferrari and Aston Martin

Max Verstappen endured a down-up ride in Monaco but needs more of a buffer to Ferrari and Aston Martin

Max Verstappen has called on Red Bull to provide him with “more of a buffer” to Ferrari and Aston Martin after a rollercoaster day of practice for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Throughout FP1, reigning F1 champion Verstappen was left bitterly frustrated with the ride and handling of his Red Bull, leading to numerous complaints over the team radio.

By the high standards set this season, the Dutch driver was a lowly sixth on the timesheet at the end of the hour-long run, almost nine-tenths of a second off the pace set by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

At the conclusion of the second session, normal service had been resumed, with Verstappen on top, albeit by a slender 0.065s to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. Team-mate Sainz was a tenth of a second down, and ended his day in a wall.

“FP1 was quite tricky,” explained Verstappen. “I was not really happy with the ride of the car on the kerbs and the bumps.

“FP2 was a lot better. The car was a lot more competitive but compared to Ferrari especially, we’re still lacking with the general ride of the car, how it handles the kerbs, the bumps, the drops in camber.

“It’s something we need to work on (for qualifying) because you can see they are very, very close. Knowing when we go to the limit in qualifying, we will need a bit more to stay ahead of them.”

Verstappen was at least happy with the set-up direction taken by the team in FP2, to such an extent he feels there is “a little bit of scope to go even more in the same direction”, allowing him to express hope the car “will be even better” for what is widely regarded as the most crucial qualifying session of the year.

With Aston Martin also in the mix, as Fernando Alonso was only 0.220s down after his final soft-tyre run was compromised, Verstappen added: “They’re close as well so we definitely need to build a little bit more of a buffer to be ahead of them.

“The car was driveable at least, and that makes you able to put a lap (together), to push a bit more, to get closer to the guardrails around here. Overall, it was a difficult start but a good end.”

Every millisecond counts – Perez

In contrast, team-mate Sergio Perez was left to lament an off-key day.

After clinching victory from second on the grid a year ago, on Friday form, Perez faces difficulty replicating such heroics.

The Mexican driver, who goes into the weekend 14 points adrift of Verstappen in the drivers’ standings, was only seventh quickest at the end of FP2, 0.529s off the pace.

“It wasn’t a great day in terms of pace in the car,” assessed Perez.

“After the changes we made, we have plenty of things to review before quali. I will sit down with my team and go through everything because every millisecond here is going to make a difference.

“They are just little things, nothing huge is standing out at the moment, so I am not massively worried.

“but it’s going to be a real challenge heading into qualifying, it’ll be an interesting session.

“We need to make sure we get on top of the tyres and put them in the window at the right time to get the perfect lap around here.”

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