The new layer of asphalt on the Portimao circuit makes it difficult for the drivers to get a grip and for the teams to determine their choice of tires. Still, Peter Windsor finds Red Bull Racing's choice in qualifying remarkable.
Q3 is the most important session in qualifying, as it determines the starting position of the top ten. However, the role of Q2 is not to be underestimated by the choice of tires on which a driver should start the race. It's not always possible to drive the fastest lap on a harder tire at that time, but it's often the best option for strategy.
Normally in Q2 the Red Bulls will go out on medium tires, but that wasn't the case yesterday. "Oddly enough Red Bull Racing sent out Verstappen on the softs. They were very fast on the mediums in the third free practice and they drove a lot of laps on that tire," said experienced journalist Peter Windsor in a video on his YouTube channel.
Extra competitor for Verstappen
"The expectation is that they will try to qualify on that tire in Q2, but they didn't." The black arrows of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have managed to do that, so Verstappen has a different strategy in the race than his competitors.
Moreover, by choosing Red Bull, Windsor thinks the Dutchman will get a competitor in the race: Charles Leclerc. "This is a big moment this year: to have a Ferrari on medium tires against a Red Bull on soft tires. That means Charles is starting now with a strategic advantage," Windsor concludes. According to Helmut Marko the choice for soft tires can however work in favour of Verstappen.