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Max Verstappen

Why Verstappen must be wary of Norris at the Spanish GP

Max Verstappen was only fifth in Free Practice 2 for the Spanish Grand Prix, with work to do for the Red Bull ahead of qualifying.

Verstappen FP1 Spain
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Whereas Helmut Marko already spoke of "the best Friday in ages" after the first free practice for the Spanish Grand Prix, the second practice session showed that Red Bull still has some work to do. Max Verstappen finished in fifth place and complained especially in the early stages about the RB20's behavior. Once again, the balance was not optimal, a sound often heard in recent weeks.

Helmut Marko spoke after the opening Barcelona practice of Red Bull having its "best Friday in ages" but the second 60-minute session hinted at work still needing to be done to the RB20. 

Max Verstappen was fifth fastest and complained once again about the balance of his machine, but hinted at set-up experiments after the day's running. 

"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."

But finding time, especially in the heart of the lap in sector two is a must. 

Compared to FP2 pace-setter Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen lost nearly four-tenths through the roughly 29 second sector, with Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris also considerably faster.

This corresponds to the understeer Verstappen was reporting back to the pit-wall, saying that the car would not turn as he demanded through the long right and left-handers.

Fixing this is of high importance to Red Bull, given the historical difficulty in overtaking in Barcelona.

Check out the fastest laps of Hamilton and Verstappen in the second free practice session below. The article continues afterwards.

Hamilton vs Verstappen FP2 lap-times

Driver S1 S2 S3 Lap
Hamilton 21.927 29.195 22.142 1:13.264
Verstappen 21.735 29.584 22.185 1:13.504
Difference -0.146 +0.389 +0.043 +0.240

The long runs

In better news for the world champion, on the mediums in particular, his long-run looked particularly quick, lapping consistently in the 1:19 region, on par with McLaren's Oscar Piastri. 

However, he did experience severe tyre degradation and even bailed out of the medium run for a late blast on softs, with a two-stop race expected, if conditions are dry. 

But it appears to be Norris who is Verstappen's closest challenger, even if the laps at the beginning of his soft tyre run were slightly down. 

By the end of the soft tyre stint, Norris was lapping faster than Verstappen on his mediums, even dipping into the 1:18s.

FP2 long runs between Verstappen and Norris

Laps Verstappen - Mediums Norris - Softs
1. 1:19.434 1:20.442
2. 1:19.421 1:20.171
3. 1:19.719 1:20.060
4. 1:19.511 1:19.875
5. 1:19.614 1:20.245
6. 1:20.102 1:20.174
7. 1:20.233 1:20.160

Also interesting:

Join Ian Parkes, Samuel Coop and Nick Golding in the latest episode of the RacingNews365 podcast, looking ahead to this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix. 

The trio discuss how significant this weekend is in the title fight, whether Red Bull's advantage will return and if Andrea Kimi Antonelli will now make his F1 debut at just 17 years old. Much, much more is also discussed! 

Rather watch then listen to our podcast? Click here.

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