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Max Verstappen

The data that shows why Verstappen must improve a crucial factor in Monaco

Max Verstappen endured a difficult start to the Monaco Grand Prix, with there being more area in particular he needs to improve in.

Verstappen FP2 Monaco
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Eleventh and fourth place in the first and second free practice for the Monaco Grand Prix. Max Verstappen would have liked a more positive start to his second home race – Verstappen resides in Monaco. 

The 26-year-old Red Bull driver was not happy with the RB20 on Friday, and had to give up no less than half a second to the lightning-fast Charles Leclerc in the second practice session.

As strange as it may sound due to Verstappen's dissatisfied reaction afterwards, nothing is lost if Red Bull improves the speed for qualifying. Verstappen lost an incredible amount of time there compared to his closest competitors. 

In the second sector alone, Leclerc was three tenths faster than Verstappen, who in turn had to do everything he could to keep the car clear of the wall. His Achilles heel? The bounce, resulting in fourth place. Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton were also faster.

Red Bull advisor Dr. Helmut Marko had also seen the bouncing that Verstappen had to manage. 

"We don't lose that much time at all and we didn't perform like the others on the engine front," said Marko. "The car bounces too much, that's true, but we made progress between the first and second free practice. 

"Alonso, Hamilton and Charles Leclerc have all also revved up the engine. We were closer to Leclerc in the second free practice, although he is still the favourite."

Watch the qualifying runs of Verstappen and Leclerc below. The text then continues.


Driver S1 S2 S3 Lap time
LEC 18.713 33.699 18.866 1:11.278
VER 18.758 34.010 19.045 1:11.813
Verschil +0.045 +0.311 +0.179 +0.535

Long runs

Why Red Bull can still be optimistic? The strong long run. Okay, qualifying is everything in Monaco and it doesn't benefit Verstappen if he had to start from P6, but the long run was very strong. 

Verstappen started on softs, switched to hards in the final phase and recorded very good lap times. According to Marko, the car also bounced less in the long run.

His main competitors, normally Leclerc and Lando Norris, could not approach his times on mediums and the last laps on hards were also very strong from Verstappen. 

Of course, it is always uncertain how much fuel the different drivers use, but no one can deny that Verstappen can compete with the Ferraris and McLarens in the race in this way. 

Especially on soft tyres, Verstappen was on average one-second faster than Norris, while in the few laps on hard tyres he was also able to approach the times of the Briton and Leclerc. Tyre wear is usually not a problem in Monaco, as it turned out again.

The possible surprise in Monaco? Mercedes and especially Hamilton. The Briton finished first and second in the qualifying simulations and was also not far behind Leclerc and Norris in the long runs. 

Mercedes usually falls back on Saturday, but there may be a very good result if they can continue this trend now. Hamilton was already eager and Leclerc even sees the seven-time world champion as the biggest threat.

Red Bull will therefore have to focus mainly on speed in qualifying. The RB20 responded unpredictably on low fuel and had the same problems as last year. The car does not like bumps and kerbs, but Red Bull seems to have found the best compromise for the race. 

Now we have to fine-tune the setup for qualifying, because in that case Verstappen could easily break two unique records of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. Or will Leclerc strike hard on his own soil?

Watch the long runs of Verstappen, Leclerc and Norris in the second free practice below. Please note: Verstappen switched to the hard tyre in the final laps, Leclerc and Norris drove on mediums.


1. 1:15.937 1:15.110 1:16.442
2. 1:15.147 1:17.228 1:16.555
3. 1:15.603 1:15.221 1:15.748
4. 1:34.688 1:17.623 1:16.146
5. 1:19.863 1:17.743 1:15.929
6. 1:15.829 1:17.246 1:16.940
7. 1:15.288 1:16.267 1:19.839
8. 1:15.103 1:16.351 1:16.295
9. 1:29.759 1:16.427
10. 1:20.875 1:22.547
11. 1:17.598 1:16.680
12. 1:18.352 1:34.461
13. 1:16.517 1:21.586
14. 1:16.303 1:15.280

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