Verstappen not happy with low-downforce set-up

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB14.
© XPB 

Max Verstappen made it clear how unhappy he was with the performance of the Red Bull RB14 in Friday's practice session at Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix.

"One of my worst this season in terms of feeling in the car," said Verstappen when asked how the day had gone.

"No grip, and around here you need to be confident in how you attack the corners. Today there was not one lap when I felt good in the car.

"When I was turning to the right, I was massively oversteering," he continued. “And when I was turning to the left, I had massive amount of understeer in the car. It was really out of balance ... Not just a little bit."

And he was quite blunt when asked whether he had got any enjoyment from his day at the office: "No, not at all, not one lap."

The Dutch driver, who turned 21 last weekend, was sixth fastest in the morning session but over a second off the pace of Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.

In the afternoon Verstappen improved to fourth, but the gap to the top was only slightly trimmed. “I think we can get close to Ferrari and challenge during the race but Mercedes seem too far ahead at the moment,” he admitted.

Verstappen had spent the day running a significantly slimmer rear wing configuration to that on the car of his team mate Daniel Ricciardo, in an effort to overcome the Renault straight-line power disadvantage compared to the Mercedes.

“I was running a different rear wing to Daniel which meant less downforce,” he confirmed. And perhaps it was a result of the different set-up that meant Ricciardo appeared much more positive about how the day had gone.

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB14.

“I don’t think I was as unhappy as him,” Ricciardo said. “We had different downforce: he tried less wing, I tried bigger.

“On one lap there’s probably not that much difference with the wing, but in the longer run seemed like I was more happy and consistent.

"Everything ran well and it’s been fun. It’s a really good circuit and with these fast cars, as you can see from my smile, it’s very enjoyable."

Ricciardo added that on short runs there was probably more he could get out of the car. However, "The long run I think we got probably the maximum out of it."

But Ricciardo's findings give Verstappen hope that the team will be able to work on its set-up and strategy overnight and come up with something that will put him in good stead for qualifying and the race itself.

“If we can find a compromise between straight line speed and rear grip then it will put us in a stronger position for the rest of the weekend," Verstappen agreed.

"It’s only Friday so we have time to make the changes and find a good balance ahead of qualifying.”

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