Verstappen warns the leaderboard lies in Austria

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen controlled Friday practice at the Styrian GP, but knows that the timesheets did not cut a fair deal for Lewis Hamilton.

Red Bull returned to their home circuit for the first of back-to-back races in Austria, and the weekend could not have started much better after Verstappen topped both practice sessions on Friday.

Without doubt that makes for nice viewing for Red Bull, but Verstappen is fully aware that Hamilton’s fastest time of FP2 was chalked off for a track limits infringement.

And so, the Dutchman does not believe that the final standings for that session can be taken at face value.

“In second practice Lewis’ time was faster but it got deleted, so it looks a bit different to what’s being shown at the moment,” he told Sky F1.

Nonetheless, it has been a very encouraging start to the weekend for Red Bull, and with that level of performance possible already on the opening day, Verstappen is hopeful of taking that form into what he suspects will be a tight qualifying.

“I think overall it’s been quite good for us, a few things still to look into but overall I’m quite happy with where the car is at the moment,” he explained.

“I started off already quite happy but there’s always things that can be done better, so it was the same again after FP2 – there are always things you can work on.

“That’s what we’re going to look at tonight, overall it was very positive.

“Clearly, if that’s possible already in FP2 then I’m sure that towards qualifying, we’ll have to wait and see what the weather will do but, overall, I think it will be again very tight.”

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For Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull it was a far more low key performance, ending Friday practice down in P9.

That being said, he very much expects to be “in the fight” come qualifying if he can unlock a few extra tenths.

“We have this issue in practice where I’m not so comfortable in the car, I kind of take one direction and probably not the right one,” he told reporters in the paddock.

“I’m not concerned at all, I think we do have good pace, the long-run pace seems to be promising, so if we are able to find a couple of tenths overnight then we are in the fight for tomorrow which is important.”

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