June 20, 2024
Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen had a 'messy' day in Melbourne on Friday (Image: Sky Sports)

Max Verstappen remains the favourite for victory at the Australian Grand Prix but did not get off to a smooth start after damaging his Red Bull in practice on Friday
Max Verstappen reflected on a “messy” Friday at the Australian Grand Prix as the defending champion was hampered by damage to his Red Bull.

The Dutchman is seeking a record-equalling 10th consecutive F1 race victory in Melbourne this weekend. And he will remain favourite to do so despite not topping the timesheets in either practice session on Friday.
Late in FP1, Verstappen briefly lost control of his Red Bull and went off line. The floor of his car smashed hard against the raised kerb he went over which, he later confirmed, caused some damage which hampered its aerodynamic performance.

Speaking at the end of the day’s running, he said: “Unfortunately [it was] a little bit messy because of what happened in FP1. I went wide, damaged the floor and also the chassis. It took a little bit longer to fix that unfortunately so I lost about 20 minutes.
“I do think the turnaround was very quick, what we did as a team, so I more or less completed the programme still. [On the] long run I would have liked maybe a few more laps but with missing 20 minutes, that’s how it goes.

“I think it was alright. I think Ferrari are quick but I think from our side, there are also a few more things that we can fine-tune. So nothing crazy, nothing worrying, I think we just need to fine-tune a little bit the car.”

FP1 was interrupted by a hefty crash for Alex Albon who caused extensive damage to his Williams. Lando Norris was at the top of the timesheets when that incident occurred and finished the session in that position despite a few late attempts by rivals to topple him.
With Verstappen hampered by the damage to his car, he was unable to claim top spot in the later session of the day – though he did set the second-quickest time. But it was nearly four-tenths of a second down on Charles Leclerc.

And Norris thinks the Ferrari star has a strong chance of snatching pole from Verstappen on Saturday. He said: “The Ferraris are pole, I think – Leclerc [will be] on pole tomorrow, or Carlos [Sainz].

“We’re more [up against] the Astons and Mercedes. It’s been clear since day one that Red Bull and Ferrari are way too fast for us, so there’s no point looking at them.”

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