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Max Verstappen

Verstappen shrugs off 'weird' Red Bull as Perez loses track

It was a typical Max Verstappen radio message as he enjoyed a "normal" Friday.

Verstappen FP2 Spain
To news overview © XPBimages

Max Verstappen has downplayed the significance of his Red Bull radio message during Friday practice for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Sporting track-specific cooling upgrades for Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, Verstappen was only fifth quickest in his RB20 at the end of FP2, 0.240s adrift of Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, with Ferrari's home hero Carlos Sainz also ahead of the three-time champion along with McLaren's Lando Norris, and surprise package Pierre Gasly for Alpine.

During FP2, however, Verstappen radioed into his team that the car was "loose in the exits in general". He then added: "Still just weird understeer mid-corner. This car doesn’t bite.”

That, however, was nothing more than perfectionist Verstappen demanding more from his car, as has become the norm this year from the Dutchman where Friday practice is concerned.

In contrast, Verstappen looked ominous as at one stage he was quickest in the first and third sectors, before that 'loose' feeling arguably compromised him in the middle where he lost a significant chunk of time.

Overall, Verstappen was satisfied with the outcome. "We just tried a few different setups out there in FP1 and FP2, just trying to fine-tune a little bit, but at least I think the day itself was a bit more normal without any issues," he said.

"That's what we were hoping for, and now it's about just trying to tidy up the car a little bit, but that's quite normal."

As for the updates on the car this weekend, he added: "They're very tiny, nothing too big but so far everything is feeling normal."

Perez lost amid 'changes'

In contrast, the second session was a troubled one for team-mate Sergio Perez. Red Bull tinkered with set-ups to such an extent that Perez was the last of the 20 drivers to set a soft-tyre time, and even then he was only 13th quickest.

Going into a weekend when he faces a three-place grid penalty for driving his car back to the pits in Canada in an unsafe condition after hitting a barrier, the Mexican can ill afford a third-in-a-row Q1 exit on Saturday.

"I started the day well but then into FP2 we made quite a lot of changes and we lost track somewhere," assessed Perez.

"There are plenty of things to analyse, we've explored the car quite a bit, so hopefully we are able to pick the right bits going into tomorrow."

Perez is acutely aware qualifying is "super, super crucial". He added: "With the lack of overtaking around this place, it's going to be very, very important to be able to qualify well to be able to get into a position on Sunday."

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