Max Verstappen said he struggled to find the right balance in his car during free practice at Paul Ricard, which went part of the way to explaining his deficit to both Ferrari drivers in FP2.
The Red Bull driver took third place in second practice on Friday, but was over half a second behind the fastest time set by Carlos Sainz at the top, with the Ferrari pair comfortably faster than the rest in the French heat.
Verstappen suffered floor damage in first practice, with Red Bull chief technology officer Adrian Newey getting involved in old-school repairs by helping stick gaffer tape on the RB18 to keep the floor in place.
Team principal Christian Horner thinks Red Bull are losing out most compared to Ferrari in the technical, twisty final sector at Paul Ricard, which seemingly suits the F1-75’s strengths at this point.
Verstappen said his pace over a long run was better than over one lap, but in the extreme heat on Friday, he admitted his tyre temperatures soared as well.
“I think FP2 was a little bit more difficult for us,” Verstappen told reporters after the session. “Just didn’t really get the balance like we hoped for.
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“We also were trying a few things with the car, so we’ll have a look at it all for tomorrow and, of course, try to be closer to what we were today.
“The long run, it’s a bit better but again, it’s the tyres are running really hot and very difficult to judge really where you are. But we know of course that we still have a little bit of work to do.”
Tyre temperature issues hampered Verstappen in the last round in Austria, as he struggled to make his sets last long enough and suffered excess degradation as a result.
He’s unsure as yet as to whether or not history is repeating itself in France.
“I mean, that I don’t know,” he said when asked if his tyre issues were a repeat of his Austria problems. “I think overall this track is very hard on the tyres anyway, so I think you cannot compare it to Austria but you know, I think in general we all needed a few more laps, you know, to really have a good look at the long run.”