Max Verstappen criticised the slippery surface of Portugal’s Algarve circuit as ‘not a lot of fun’ on Saturday after the Red Bull driver qualified behind both Mercedes cars for Sunday’s race. The Dutch driver, second in the championship and only one point behind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, also had a lap that would have been fast enough for pole position deleted for running too wide. “I didn’t enjoy one single lap this weekend, just because of the state of the track,” he said. “The layout is amazing but (the) grip we are experiencing, I don’t think it’s nice. I know it’s the same for everyone, but for me personally, it’s not enjoyable to drive.”
The southern circuit near Portimao is making its second appearance on the calendar as the sport looks outside traditional venues to maintain the number of races during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last year’s race was in October and Verstappen finished third behind the two Mercedes drivers, with seven-times champion Hamilton taking a then-record 92nd win from pole.
“I remember coming here last year, before the grand prix and I was really… I mean honestly, top three of my favourite tracks, but then they change the tarmac and for me… I don’t enjoy it any more,” said Verstappen.
Valtteri Bottas, who took pole for Mercedes, agreed the surface was very low-grip, making it less enjoyable, but said it was the same for everyone. “You have to try and make the most out of it,” said the Finn.
Hamilton said Turkey, whose circuit is another recalled to the calendar after a long absence, also used to have good grip before the surface was re-done.
“We’re finding we’re going to more and more circuits that seem to be changing the tarmac that they’re using,” he said. “It’s not that great when we’re struggling for grip; it means it’s harder then to follow and so then it has that knock-on effect so we should ask for the good stuff back.”