Max Verstappen has said that the Jeddah circuit does not feel very different to last year, despite the new regulations, following the first two practice sessions in Saudi Arabia. The reigning world champion finished second in both practice sessions, while teammate Sergio Perez would take seventh and fourth places in the first and second sessions respectively.
Oracle Red Bull Racing clocked 96 total laps total on Friday, in what will have been a crucial day of data collection in order to catch up to a fast-looking Ferrari team, and both drivers were content with their progress:
Verstappen happy with circuit changes
“The sessions ran quite smoothly today, we completed our programme and tried out lots of different tyre sets,” Verstappen explained.
“It seems like Ferrari were quite competitive again, we still have a little bit of work to do to catch up with them and there’s plenty of room for improvement.
“The track feels pretty much the same as last year, the barriers have moved slightly and in terms of visibility, it hasn’t made a noticeable impact.”
The 2021 world champion claims the team still “need to look at some data” ahead of Saturday’s qualifying session.
Perez finds it hard to get a clear lap
While content with the data collected, Perez claimed it was difficult to put a good lap together due to the amount of cars on circuit.
“We ran both cars on different programmes and I think we got the data we needed, so now we have some work to do tonight. It was difficult to get the lap in I needed to see exactly how we will perform over one lap here because I had a lot of traffic out there.”
“I think it could be another straight shootout with Ferrari on Saturday but at the moment we are focusing on ourselves and hopefully tomorrow we are able to make the steps we’d like with the car.”
“It will be important in qualifying to make sure we get the space for a clean lap because traffic can be a bit difficult around here so we need to make sure we are on it.”
The Jeddah F1 circuit is certainly a tricky place to set a fast lap-time, with lots of high-speed corners being tough to navigate in combination with slower cars on out-laps and in-laps. Verstappen will be hoping for a much smoother qualifying session this year after hitting the wall in Q3 last year, while Perez will aim to be as high up the field as possible in order to build a good strategy for Sunday.