Max Verstappen, the reigning world champion, expressed a promising sentiment about the forthcoming Japanese Grand Prix. Following a period of uncertainty at the Singapore tracks, Verstappen and Red Bull returned in spectacular style, taking their familiar place atop the timesheets.
Verstappen Dominates Practice Sessions
A dominant presence during Friday's practice sessions, Verstappen effortlessly finished ahead, three-tenths clear of Ferrari's main man, Charles Leclerc. When questioned if this stellar performance meant a return to form after the recent hiccups in Singapore, Verstappen confidently stated, “Yeah.
It felt really good today. From Lap 1, the car was enjoyable to drive again”. This surely promises some riveting action for race enthusiasts. Elaborating on the day's run, the champion highlighted the challenges the track presented. “It seems like we had a strong day, on short runs, long runs.
There’s a lot of degradation on this track, so it will be quite tough I think on tyres in the race. But so far, I think we had a good start to the weekend”. The competition doesn't seem to be letting up either. Verstappen noted, “It looks like it’s all a bit tight behind me, between Ferrari, McLaren, [they’re] close, so we’ll have a look”.
Yet, the champion remains unperturbed, emphasizing the importance of the team's focus. "At the end of the day, we just focus on ourselves and try to optimize our performance. If we do that, I’m confident that we’ll fight for pole”.
Perez Eyes Improvement and Pole Position
Sergio Perez, Verstappen's teammate, faced a few more challenges but still remains hopeful. Ending the day ninth fastest, with a lag just over a second from Verstappen’s time, Perez reflected, “I think this morning we were a bit off balance on our side.
I think we have some pretty good understanding of the direction we need to take”. He continued to highlight the optimism in the Red Bull camp, stating, “Certainly, things are looking a lot better than they did last weekend, which is positive.
I look forward to qualifying well tomorrow”. Taking note of the degrading track conditions and expected hot temperatures, Perez emphasized the need for strategy. Pushed on his hopes for pole position, Perez remained confident, concluding, “Yes, I do believe that we’re going to be strong tomorrow and also on Sunday”.