Lots to learn for Verstappen after first Qatar outing

Date published: November 19 2021 - Henry Valantine

Max Verstappen drives in practice. Qatar November 2021.

Max Verstappen thinks Losail is a “really cool track” to drive, but admits there’s still plenty for him to learn for this weekend.

The drivers took to the track for the first time on Friday, taking part in first practice during daylight hours, but FP2 was a better representation of the race to come as it happened under the floodlights in Qatar.

Verstappen looked on the pace from the start, though, ranking first in FP1 before taking third in FP2, on a circuit which has been roundly praised by the drivers for the challenges it presents on its high-speed layout.

But after his day’s running, the World Championship leader said there’s still more to understand for him before qualifying takes place.

Max Verstappen focused. Qatar November 2021

“It was the first time [we ran] in the evening, so it was important to understand how the car would react,” Verstappen said in the paddock after FP2.

“Quite a bit of a change between the medium and the soft tyre for me, that’s why I think on the soft tyre it wasn’t let’s say amazing, but again you know it’s our first time here, so a lot of things to understand.

“You need to learn the track a bit, but it’s been a lot of fun to drive to be honest. I think it’s a really cool track.”

On the other side of the garage, Sergio Perez said he found the going a bit tougher around the Losail International Circuit, after lapping around three tenths behind his team-mate on his fastest run.

With qualifying expected to be tight, the Red Bull driver is hoping to be able to have his car set up closer to his liking heading into Saturday’s running, and like Verstappen he feels there is still work to be done to feel ready to perform.

 

“I think we’ve got some work to do,” said the Mexican. “I’m not entirely happy with the balance, so we’ve got some work to do to sort that out hopefully for tomorrow.

“We had a good start but obviously we’ve done some changes especially going onto the soft tyre that we need to review. And hopefully we can sort it out. Margins are very close, everything is really close around the teams, so hopefully we can be strong come qualy.”