Red Bull are confident that they can get Max Verstappen comfortable at the Turkish GP, but a long Friday night will be required.
Verstappen and Red Bull came to the Turkish Grand Prix with high hopes of victory, but for that to happen they will need to fix the balance issues which were plaguing Verstappen during Friday practice.
The Dutchman would finish FP2 down in P5, over six-tenths slower than title-rival Lewis Hamilton.
So now, a “busy night” is ahead says Red Bull principal Christian Horner to find the right window for Verstappen’s challenger.
“We’ve got a little bit of a balance mish mash at the moment,” Horner told Sky F1.
“I think the circuit is a lot grippier than it was last year, I think we are just a little bit out of the window with Max on setup.
“So it’s going to be a busy night tonight, burning the midnight oil with the engineers and no doubt back in Milton Keynes as well.”
Asked if they are issues for Verstappen which can be sorted out, Horner replied: “I think so, I think it is just understanding the issue.
“Then we know we’ve got a good car, so it is just a matter of getting into that window and I don’t think we hit that today.”
— Red Bull Racing Honda (@redbullracing) October 8, 2021
It is not often that Sergio Perez is the better-performing Red Bull driver in Friday practice, but that is how it turned out at Istanbul Park as Perez ended FP2 in P4.
Horner did confirm though that both drivers were “running slightly different strategies”, and so that information will help them decide upon an approach for the race weekend ahead.
“Obviously you try to optimise the amount of information that you are getting, so you split the strategies,” Horner stated.
“So yes they were running slightly different strategies, it has been a good day for Checo, so some good information there.
“That is obviously extremely useful for the team as we pick which direction to go in tomorrow.”
For Verstappen P2 in qualifying would be enough for pole, since Hamilton has picked up a 10-place grid penalty for taking a new internal combustion engine.
But with Hamilton topping both Friday practice sessions, Horner is prepared for a strong Mercedes in Turkey, meaning Red Bull must make the most of Hamilton’s grid drop.
“We expected Mercedes to be strong here, they are strong here, we are going to have to go some to try and capatalise on that grid penalty,” he said.
Asked if it is a case of the Mercedes W12 performing well or the treated, more grippy tarmac helping the German outfit’s cause, Horner said: “It’s a bit of both, it’s always that interaction and I think their car seems to have quite low degradation, it’s quite soft on its tyres.
“This circuit is temperature sensitive and we can see with what they’ve done it has become even more sensitive in some respects, the grip level has gone up, but the sensitivity is still there.
“So it’s going to play a key role, and who knows, there is a bit of rain around tomorrow and maybe even on Sunday, could be another thriller.”
Time for Verstappen and Red Bull to turn the screw
After some excellent damage limitation in Russia, Max Verstappen has a huge chance to really take charge in the title fight in Turkey.