Max Verstappen says Red Bull will need to find more pace on Saturday to stay ahead of Ferrari and Aston Martin in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix.
The championship leader set the pace in Friday’s second practice session. However, he was just six-hundredths of a second quicker than Charles Leclerc and a tenth ahead of Leclerc’s Ferrari team mate, Carlos Sainz Jnr.
After Verstappen only posted the sixth-quickest time in the opening practice session, he admitted he had struggled with his car around the bumpy street circuit at first.
“FP1 was quite tricky,” he said. “I was not really happy with the ride of the car on the kerbs and the bumps.
“I think FP2 was already a lot better, the car was a lot more competitive. But compared to Ferrari especially I think we’re still a bit lacking on the general ride of the car, so how it handles the kerbs, the bumps, the drops in camber.
“So that’s still something we need to work on for tomorrow because you can see they are very, very close and knowing that once you go all to the limit in qualifying, we need a bit more to just stay ahead of them.”
With Fernando Alonso just two tenths of a second behind Verstappen in fourth place and having been quicker than both Red Bulls in the earlier session, Verstappen recognises the potential additional threat from the Aston Martin driver.
“They’re close as well,” Verstappen said. “So we definitely need to build a little bit more of a buffer if we want to be ahead of them tomorrow.”
Verstappen’s Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez was half a second slower than him in seventh place at the end of second practice. Perez said he would have to go through the data with his team to determine how he can make up that deficit on Saturday.
“I think I just need to sit down with the boys and go through that and try to pick up the best bits out there,” said Perez, “because every millisecond here is going to make a difference.”
Asked if there was something fundamental with his car’s set up that may explain the margin, Perez said it was only “little things” holding him back. “There’s nothing standing out at the moment,” he said.
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2023 Monaco Grand Prix
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