Max Verstappen: Red Bull stuck in setup trouble as Ferrari pace admission made

Thomas Maher
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 2024 Monaco Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen believes Ferrari is out of reach following the practice day in Monaco.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen says the Friday struggles he encountered in practice can’t be resolved with setup changes.

Verstappen was unable to challenge the top of the times in Friday practice in Monte Carlo, with the Dutch driver over half a second off the pace set by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Max Verstappen ‘can’t describe’ Red Bull issues

With Leclerc setting the pace with ease on Friday, ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, Verstappen wound up in fourth in his RB20 with a time 0.535 seconds off Leclerc.

Verstappen had been heard on team radio describing to race engineer Gianpiero ‘GP’ Lambiase that his car was behaving “like a kangaroo” and, speaking after the session, the Dutch driver was perplexed as to the nature of the issues affecting his car.

“I don’t think I even can describe what is actually going on,” he said.

“It’s just very difficult. It’s not something that I didn’t expect. But yeah, it’s definitely at the higher end of… [it’s] the worst possible outcome of the weekend so far and it’s just very difficult.

“A lot of bumps and kerbs and camber changes as well on the track and, of course, that is basically impossible to take every time that we go over it.

“There’s a lot of lap time lost just because the car doesn’t ride it well. That is definitely hampering us at the moment to go faster. There’s also no real clear direction or solution for the weekend to try and solve something like that.”

While Red Bull also had a tricky start to the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix weekend, only to bounce back to take pole position on Saturday and narrowly win on Sunday, Verstappen said the setup options available to the team won’t rectify the car’s inherent characteristics that are proving problematic in Monte Carlo.

“Imola was completely different, also different issues that you can solve with setup,” he said.

“These kind of things you cannot solve with setup because that’s how the car is made and designed and these kinds of things you cannot change overnight, so we are stuck with that. We’ll try to make it a little bit better. But I don’t expect any miracles.”

Having spent the last two weekends worrying about McLaren as Lando Norris won in Miami and challenged him strongly at Imola, Verstappen said he suspects it’s Ferrari who have the advantage on track in Monaco.

“Ferrari are miles ahead so I’m not even thinking about that for tomorrow,” he said.

“I just want to try and solve the issues that we have, try to make it a little bit more drivable. And then we’ll see where we end up, but I don’t expect any miracles.”

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On the other side of the Red Bull garage, Sergio Perez’s comments were along the same lines as Verstappen’s. The Mexican driver managed the eighth quickest time, a further three-tenths of a second behind Verstappen in FP2.

“It’s gonna be tough,” the 2022 race winner admitted.

“I think our limitations are really hard to get away from at the moment and the ride… so we’ll see what we are able to come up with tonight.

“We ran the cars slightly differently. I don’t know what the issues for Max were, so there are plenty of things – the long run pace seems to be in a better condition but, obviously, it’s relative, so we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Like Verstappen, Perez said Red Bull won’t be able to compete with Ferrari based on Friday’s handling.

“I think Ferrari at the moment is not reachable. I think they’re really, really strong,” he said.

“Whenever they need the lap, they just seem to put it on really easy, really quick.

“It’s something that it’s quite a benefit around this place, you know, to be able to put the lap in quick whenever you need to and don’t struggle so much with tyres and that sort of thing. They’re looking very strong at the moment.”

As for what changes can be made over Friday night in a bid to improve the car ahead of the most critical qualifying session of the entire season, Perez said he fears it’s not going to be straightforward.

“I don’t think it’s only one – I think we’ve got a few items that we need to be able to improve on,” he said.

“Hopefully, it can put us back in the fight and just be closer to the top. It’s looking tough at the moment.”

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