Max Verstappen wary of qualifying ‘surprises’ after Canada practice issues

Henry Valantine
Max Verstappen in the paddock. Canada June 2023.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen walks through the paddock in Montreal.

Max Verstappen is keeping an eye on qualifying “surprises” in Montreal this weekend after admitting his Red Bull was “not fantastic” in Friday practice.

Almost all of FP1 was curtailed after a CCTV syncing issue meant that around 53 of the 60 minutes were red-flagged, with a delay in TV footage meaning Race Control were unable to see fully live footage from around the circuit – resulting in a safety problem that needed resolving.

An extra 30 minutes were added to FP2 in order to try and make up for some of the lost time later in the day, where Verstappen and Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez managed P6 and P8 respectively in the session, some four tenths behind the pace-setting Lewis Hamilton and behind both Ferrari drivers, as well as the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso.

Hamilton and Mercedes team-mate George Russell set the pace on Friday, while Verstappen complained over team radio of his downshifts being “a joke” as he struggled to get to grips with his gearbox.

But beyond that, he revealed there were further issues on track that his car was finding difficult to manage.

“Of course it wasn’t very straightforward with basically no running in FP1,” Verstappen said after Friday practice.

“It was same for everyone and at least we could get a bit of running in FP2, but I think we still have a bit of work to do.

“The car’s not fantastic at the moment over the bumps, over the kerbs. I mean, it’s still not too bad, but we definitely need to finetune a few things.

“But again, you see now it’s raining, probably tomorrow it’s raining, but then maybe on Sunday, it’s dry again.

“So yeah, a bit more of a tricky session. But you know, sometimes you have those days.”

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“Yeah, let’s see,” he added when asked if Red Bull’s rivals might upset the pecking order over the weekend.

“I mean, I think we didn’t have a good day, maybe they had a good day.

“We know our limitations with the car and probably on the track like it is now with the bumps and the kerbs, it’s definitely not suiting our package for now, but I will try to find a few improvements.”

With heavy rain having fallen in the final few minutes of FP2 and further wet weather forecast over the remainder of the weekend, the two-time World Champion is expecting the prospect of a mixed-up grid order come Sunday.

“Yeah, let’s see,” he said when asked about that possibility. “I mean, probably tomorrow is going to be very wet, so that normally always brings a few surprises in qualifying, and I will see what the weather will do on Sunday.”