Max curses his luck after wrecked soft-tyre runs in Baku

Date published: June 10 2022 - Jamie Woodhouse

A stern expression from Max Verstappen, Red Bull. Azerbaijan, June 2022.

Max Verstappen said he could not catch a break with the soft tyres fitted during Friday practice at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Verstappen’s Red Bull caused a stir during the opening practice session, the rear wing shown flexing ferociously down the straights. Team boss Christian Horner said this had already led to complaints from rival teams.

He was then forced to start FP2 later than planned as the Red Bull mechanics set about adding some extra rigidity to the rear wing.

Out of sync with the rest of the pack, Verstappen was unable to set a clean push lap on the soft tyres in FP2, an array of yellow flags doing the damage as drivers took to the escape road, a repeat of a similar situation for Verstappen in FP1.

The Dutchman’s luck then was very much out.

“[I was] just a bit unlucky with my soft tyre runs in FP1 and FP2,” he told reporters after FP2.

“All the time, I caught a yellow flag so had to back out but overall, I think we looked quite decent.”

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc ended FP2 on top, with Verstappen stating that Ferrari are once more looking good over one lap.

As for the race pace, Verstappen feels that is a little more even.

“It looks like Ferrari is quite quick over one lap again,” he said. “On long runs, it looks a little more even – so that is positive.

“For once, on a street circuit, it looks like we can get the tyres to work over one lap, everyone it seems because when you try on the second lap, you lose performance.

“Overall, not a bad day. We just need to fine tune a few things.”

Of course, Verstappen did not get the best overall picture of tyre life over a race distance, since that simulation in FP2 was short and sweet.

He does though believe that the team has gathered enough information to make an informed decision on their tyres.

Asked how many laps he managed in that race sim, Verstappen joked: “Two laps! It was very long.

“I don’t think it is going to matter too much. You get a bit of an idea.

“Of course, you don’t know the full deg of the tyre, but I think we do have enough info to see which direction we want to go with the tyres.”

Verstappen would finish FP2 in P3, team-mate Sergio Perez a tenth of a second and one position ahead.