Verstappen: I didn't enjoy one single lap


Missing out on pole after having his best time deleted, Max Verstappen is one of a number of drivers highly critical of Portimao's track surface.

Ahead of last year's race, which was a late addition to the calendar due to the pandemic, the track was entirely resurfaced, and the drivers complained of the lack of grip.

However, this time around, the new aero rules aimed at reducing downforce combined with Pirelli's decision to bring its three hardest compounds, has, in the eyes of the drivers, made things worse.

"I didn't enjoy one single lap this weekend, just because of the state of the track," said Max Verstappen. "The layout is amazing but grip we are experiencing, I don't think it's nice.

"I know it's the same for everyone," he continued, "but for me personally, it's not enjoyable to drive.

"I started off in qualifying really slow," he admitted. "I had no balance in the car. We slowly got to a point where I was happier but it was basically just compromising one thing and then also losing a bit of performance in the other thing - so it was just not nice."

Referring to specifically to Q3 in which he posted a time that would have been good enough for pole but was subsequently deleted, he said: "I had my little moment in Turn 4 on the first run. At the end it showed that was the fastest lap, but... it just showed that it was a really difficult session to get any kind of grip in it because that corner is flat and suddenly, out-of-the-blue the car just snapped on me and I ran a bit wide.

"And then, I thought, you know, I can do that lap again, so I go out and I was within a tenth of the lap and in the last sector I lost all my lap time. (There was) an Aston Martin in front and then taking my tow on the line as well. Messy - but it is what it is."

Asked if he expected to struggle so much for grip, he replied: "No. Basically I checked the MotoGP times and they were the same already. I know of course they have a little bit of a different front tyre but in general, yeah, just poor.

"I remember coming here last year, before the grand prix and I was really... I mean honestly, top three of my favourite tracks, but then they change the tarmac and for me... yeah, I don't enjoy it anymore."

"It was a difficult session, I think, for everyone," added Lewis Hamilton. "It's not that easy here, particular as it's windy and it's quite slippery on this surface. So, I think it was challenging for everyone.

"Quite a messy session really, for me. Q1 wasn't good, Q2 I only had one good lap and I would say in the whole session generally I only had that one lap. Q3 was pretty poor also."

For their final runs in Q3, both drivers tried the mediums, but unsurprisingly they failed to improve.

"It probably wasn't the right decision at the end, it was just tricky out there," said the world champion. "You saw us having to do multiple laps.

"The tyres are too hard here, so they don't work very well with the surface so we have to do extra laps to get temperature in and at the end, just didn't have very great grip, so didn't do the greatest job.

"Last year here we were faced with the same issue of a very peaky grip and very narrow grip window," he continued, "and I think that's really the case today.

"It felt quite good in P3 today and as I said, on that Q2 lap, it felt solid and I thought we were in the right window, but it's temperatures, there are gusts of wind so you can be unlucky and get tailwinds that perhaps you wouldn't normally get on particular corners.

"So it's a combination of things and then just generally just not particularly the tidiest - not great laps from myself really so I only had that one in Q2."

Hamilton, who rode a MotoGP bike at Valencia last year, when asked if he would like to ride a bike at Portimao, was in no doubt. "I wouldn't want to ride one round here, because there's no grip," he said.

"You'd take off over some of these humps, you know. Coming out of Turn 15 and onto the straight at 1... you would probably take off. I don't fancy that."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Portimao, here.

Article from Pitpass (

Published: 02/05/2021
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