Verstappen has 'fingers crossed' for Saturday rain

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB14
© XPB 

Max Verstappen admitted that he was looking forward to the rain making an impact this weekend in Melbourne.

The Red Bull driver finished a hot and sunny Friday with the second fastest time. His lap of 1:24.058s was just 0.127s behind pace setter Lewis Hamilton in second free practice for the Australian Grand Prix.

"This has been a positive start to the weekend so I am really happy about that," said the Dutchman.

"The car has behaved well on this track, which is always pleasing after only running in Barcelona to date."

Despite Friday's pace, Verstappen still felt that he would need some help from the weather to really challenge for pole position on Saturday.

"A little bit of rain over the rest of the weekend would help us out," he admitted.

"Being wet means performance is less engine dependent," he explained. "[It] makes the power tricky to control.

"Our car is usually strong in the wet and I enjoy myself, so fingers crossed we get some rain.”

Even after his strong showing in FP2, Verstappen isn't ready to concede that Red Bull might now be a near-match for Mercedes.

"I think there is definitely some room for improvement," he insisted.

"We have only done two practice sessions so it is still hard to see who is strongest and how we will finish come race day.

"It is a bit of a guess when you come to the first circuit of the season," he continued. "It takes at least two or three Grand Prix to understand what is going on - and also depends on everyone’s development rate throughout the year.

"[Our] race pace looks good. Mercedes look pretty strong," he said. "But Mercedes will always be the favourites - they’ve won four titles in a row.

"You know Mercedes are going to be quick, but I think we still have some things to improve of course. I’m positive," he insisted.

"I think we needs at least two or three Grands Prix to really see what’s going on," Verstappen added. “Even then, it’s all about the development rate of the car.

"I’m not concerned with how it looks at the moment."

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