Max Verstappen hopes twice will be enough for F1 at Portimao – a venue not to his liking due to the lack of grip.
Both this season and last, the Algarve circuit has filled a gap in the calendar caused by the health pandemic forcing the cancellation of scheduled races.
This time, the Dutchman came away having failed to follow up his victory a fortnight earlier at Imola, finishing second to Sir Lewis Hamilton to fall eight points behind the seven-time World Champion in what is expected to be a thrilling battle for the Drivers’ title.
It was an uneventful Portuguese Grand Prix and one that left the Red Bull man hoping Formula 1 will not need to call at this track again on a temporary or permanent basis.
“The whole weekend I didn’t enjoy because of the grip levels around here,” Verstappen told Sky F1. “I hope we don’t come back.
“Barcelona [venue for the next race] is good. It’s a nice track for an F1 car and I think we’ll see more of how the progression of the teams has been from the start of the season to today.
“I was just clearly lacking a little bit of grip, a little bit of top speed, just not being able to put the pressure on Mercedes.”
— Red Bull Racing Honda (@redbullracing) May 2, 2021
Verstappen started third on the grid and although he and Hamilton each passed the other, it was Valtteri Bottas whom the Red Bull driver battled with most.
He eventually overtook the Finn just after they had both pitted for hard tyres and his second place was solidified when Bottas lost time with a sensor issue.
“Lewis got past Valtteri, but still I couldn’t pass and always the last two corners I lost out way too much,” added Verstappen.
“But then I think the team called me in at a good time and I had a good, strong out-lap because it was super-slippery out there.
“Even on the hard tyre, sometimes I could match Hamilton, sometimes not and then he was pulling away again.
“There was never really one point when I thought ‘okay, we have the pace to fight him’ so I just tried to stay in second.”
Verstappen thought he had reduced his World Championship deficit to Hamilton by one point when he clocked the fastest lap at the end, but quickly had it deleted for exceeding track limits – an issue which is starting to become a recurring one for him this season.
“Oh really? That’s a good one,” Verstappen said. “That’s a bit odd because they weren’t checking track limits at Turn 14, but whatever.”