Max Verstappen cut a frustrated figure on team radio during Free Practice 2 for the Hungarian Grand Prix, the championship leader complaining of understeer on his Red Bull RB16B – and suggesting afterwards that Red Bull had ‘a lot to look into’, after he wound up three-tenths adrift of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in the session.
Verstappen had come out of the gate strongly in FP1, heading the session from Bottas by 0.061s.
But in the qualifying simulations of FP2, Verstappen couldn’t get within 0.298s of the Finn’s session-leading time, as he wound up P3, with the second Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton – with whom Verstappen made contact at the previous round in Silverstone – splitting the pair in P2.
And asked if he’d been surprised by the gap to Mercedes in FP2 – which saw track temperatures climb as high as 62 degrees Celsius – Verstappen replied: “No – I mean it’s nothing too big to overcome, just in general it’s not been an easy day with track temperatures like this, so we’ll analyse everything.
2021 Hungarian GP FP2: Verstappen frustrated by car balance issues at Hungaroring
“[There were] a few adjustments we were trying from FP1 to FP2 so just need to look into which things worked, which things didn’t,” Verstappen added. “[We still need to improve] especially over one-lap and also long run, so a lot of things to look into. But nothing shocking.”
It was a trickier day for team mate Sergio Perez, who – at a track that he’s admitted to never having particularly enjoyed – finished FP1 0.911s off Verstappen’s leading time down in P9, while he could only improve to P5 in FP2, one place behind the Alpine of Esteban Ocon and over eight-tenths off the ultimate pace.
And having been over half a second off Verstappen in FP2 to boot, Perez confirmed there was, “definitely time to be found”, adding: “I’m not fully comfortable with the car. We’ve made good steps from not expecting these kind of conditions, so just reading conditions better and getting a better lap. Traffic was critical on my lap as well, so I think there’s plenty to play for tomorrow still. I’m looking forward to it.
“We’ve got a pretty good idea of which steps we have to take,” he added, “so I’m optimistic for the rest of the weekend.”
Red Bull are going in search of their first win at the Hungaroring since 2014 this weekend, with the gap between them and second-placed Mercedes down to four points, while Verstappen leads Hamilton by eight points in the drivers’ standings.