Max Verstappen was delighted with his Friday at the Yas Marina Circuit, despite the two-time FIA Formula 1 World Champion missing the opening practice session.
Oracle Red Bull Racing gave Liam Lawson his first chance to drive the RB18 on Friday to fulfil the teams need to give young drivers two opportunities to run free practice sessions throughout the 2022 season, and this time around it was Verstappen who stepped out of the car.
When he got out on track in the evening session, Verstappen hit the top spot with a great lap of 1:25.146, more than three-tenths of a second faster than anyone else could manage.
“I’m really happy with how that session went, I think the car came together well,” said Verstappen. “Liam did a really good job in FP1, he was calm and steady which is exactly what we needed.
“In FP2 we tried a few things and in the long runs the car was working quite well, so I’m pretty happy with that. Weather wise, the temperature in FP2 was more representative of what it will be like during qualifying.
“Of course, we’ll always try to refine a few things overnight, but we should be competitive in quali and the race.”
“We have a bit of time to find in the short runs” – Sergio Pérez
Team-mate Sergio Pérez was also happy after Friday’s running, with the Mexican feeling they have a lot of information they can use to improve the feeling of the RB18 even more on Saturday.
Pérez ended the opening session in fourth place and the second in fifth, although he feels that he will need to improve the feeling of the car over short runs if they are to be in the fight for pole position on Saturday evening.
“The car was good today,” said Pérez. “It was a very interesting two sessions, very different in the morning to the afternoon.
“This morning was a bit tricky with the temperatures, which means the afternoon session is the one we really have to pay attention to, because it will be the most representative for the weekend. We are just exploring the balance around the car but generally, we feel we have plenty of information for tomorrow and more importantly, for Sunday.
“We are competitive in the long-runs but we have a bit of time to find in the short runs. There are a few bits to analyse to see where we can do better, it is very important here to have great race pace here.”