SUZUKA, Japan — A furious Max Verstappen has labelled his Friday in Japan as “one of the worst this season” after struggling during practice all day in his Red Bull for confidence and grip.
The Dutchman finished the morning session in P6, 0.468s down on teammate Daniel Ricciardo, and while he found pace in FP2 to improve to fourth overall — still over a second adrift of Lewis Hamilton’s session-topping time — it wasn’t without numerous complaints over the team radio. At one point during the afternoon session Verstappen told his crew that he felt as though he was competing in “rallycross” after his car was seen sliding through the Esses.
When he stepped out of the car, Verstappen made it clear that it was an all-round horrible day.
“[It was] one of the worst this season in terms of feeling in the car,” Verstappen said. “No grip and around here you need to be confident in how you attack the corners. Today there was not one lap when I felt good in the car.”
Verstappen, who has finished the last two Japanese Grands Prix in second place, was able to edge ahead of Ricciardo in the second session as the Australian slipped to sixth, but even that did little to boost his confidence.
“But I’m still not happy with the car,” he said. “It doesn’t really say anything for me.”
Ricciardo, meanwhile, wasn’t as downbeat with his Friday in Suzuka despite hitting traffic on his best flying lap attempt in FP2.
“I don’t think I was as unhappy as him,” Ricciardo said. “We had different downforce, he tried less wing, I tried bigger. On one lap there’s probably not that much difference with the wing, but in the longer run seemed like I was more happy and consistent.
“For me, short runs we can improve I think, the long run I think we got probably the maximum out of it. Hopefully if it rains tomorrow we can have some good pace and fix some of the inconsistencies we’ve had in the wet this year with the car, and hopefully she’s friendly.”