Max Verstappen pinpoints Red Bull’s biggest threat after ‘messy’ Australian GP practice

Oliver Harden
Max Verstappen creates a shower of sparks after running over the kerb in 2024 Australian Grand Prix practice

Max Verstappen creates a shower of sparks after running over the kerb in 2024 Australian Grand Prix practice

Max Verstappen has conceded that Ferrari are looking “quick” at the Australian Grand Prix, but warned Red Bull still have more to come after a “messy” day of practice at Albert Park.

After winning the opening two rounds of the F1 2024 season in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Verstappen is aiming to match his own record of 10 straight victories in Melbourne this weekend.

Max Verstappen wary of Ferrari pace at Australian GP

The Dutchman was once again at the sharp end in FP1, just 0.018 seconds slower than Lando Norris’s table-topping McLaren, but was classified 0.381s behind Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari in FP2.

Verstappen was a late arrival to the track in FP2 as Red Bull spent time repairing damage to his floor after the World Champion ran wide in the morning session.

Speaking after the session, Verstappen admitted his day was far from perfect but was pleased with Red Bull’s recovery after he suffered floor damage.

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He told Formula 1: “Unfortunately, a little bit messy because of what happened in FP1.

“I went wide, damaged the floor and the chassis. It took a little bit longer to fix that unfortunately, I lost about 20 minutes.

“But I think the turnaround we did as a team was very quick so I more or less still completed the program.

“With the long run, maybe I would have liked a few more laps but we were missing 20 minutes. That’s how it goes.”

Ferrari are the only team apart from Red Bull to have registered a podium finish so far this season, with Leclerc finishing third in Jeddah – seven days after tam-mate Carlos Sainz finished behind the dominant Red Bulls in Bahrain.

With Sainz underlining Ferrari’s pace at Albert Park by posting the third-quickest time in FP2, Verstappen is wary of the threat posed by the Scuderia again this weekend.

Yet he is convinced that there is more pace to be unlocked from the RB20 after an interrupted Friday.

Asked to assess his pace, he said: “I think it was alright.

“I think Ferrari is quick, but from our side I think there are also a few more things we can finetune.

“So nothing crazy, nothing worrying – I think we just need to finetune the car a little bit.”

Verstappen claimed his first Australian Grand Prix victory in 2023, with Leclerc claiming a grand slam in the 2022 event by collecting the win as well as pole position and the fastest lap.

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