Red Bull “lacking a bit of pace” in F1 title decider - Verstappen

Max Verstappen has conceded that Red Bull is “lacking a bit of pace” relative to Mercedes after Friday practice for Formula 1’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen (NLD), Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen (NLD), Red Bull Racing

Verstappen trailed title rival Lewis Hamilton by over six-tenths in second practice at the Yas Marina Circuit, although the race runs looked more promising for Red Bull.

Hamilton has won the last three consecutive grands prix, while Verstappen has only won twice since his home triumph at Zandvoort in early September.

With Valtteri Bottas also ahead of Verstappen in second practice, the Dutchman admitted that Red Bull needs to improve its qualifying pace.

“I mean we are still learning and understanding a few things but of course clearly the short run didn’t go to plan, lacking a bit of pace, but the long runs quite a bit more competitive and that’s also important,” Verstappen said.

Hamilton is level on points with Verstappen going into Sunday’s finale and realistically, he knows that he will have to win to secure a record-breaking eighth title.

The seven-time champion was 0.3s shy of Verstappen in the morning, but topped the more representative evening session ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon.

Hamilton’s 1m24.126s on the mediums midway through FP2 would have caught the eye of his main rivals as it was over nine-tenths quicker than anyone at the time.

Reflecting on Friday in Abu Dhabi, he said: “It doesn’t feel too bad. It started off good and then got a bit worse in P1, then started off better in the second session with some changes we made. Now we’re just going to crank through the data and try and figure out how we can improve, where we home in. The target is always moving, but otherwise I feel good.

“I feel good, I feel great in my body, and like I said I think we made some positive steps set-up-wise, so we will try to perfect it tonight and come back hard tomorrow.”

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