Max Verstappen‘s 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix struggles continued in Free Practice 3 and the ex-Formula 1 world champion, Damon Hill, explained why the Dutchman is lost for speed as he battled with the balance, rear grip and ride height of his car.
In fact, Verstappen finished the session closer to Esteban Ocon‘s Alpine than Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari and it was no better on Sergio Perez‘s side of the garage as he could only finish 11th.
So, half a second down on George Russell, just what is going on with Red Bull? It’s out of character for the team that have won 20 out of 21 races in 2023’s F1 season.
“These cars now are really critical with ride height,” Damon Hill explained to Sky Sports F1. “Their performance improves dramatically with an adjustment with ride height.
“I think what he’s complaining about more though is hopping. He’s not got balance at all and he’s not been together with this car in this session.
“You can’t believe he’s having an off day can you? It’s not typical of him to not drive brilliantly.”
Red Bull seemingly lost for ideas
Red Bull‘s in-session set-up changes did little to solve their problems which includes the car “bouncing” meaning the floor is hitting the ground, causing vertical oscillations commonly known as “porpoising”.
On Verstappen‘s first run after some time in the garage to experiment with his RB19, he ran wide at Turn 1, was 0.2s down after Sector 1 and aborted his push-lap after a rear slide at the exit of Turn 5.
On his second run, he did manage to set a better lap but it was still lost for time. The world champion was 0.735s slower than George Russell after 19 laps in FP3, he was even slower than the Williams of Alex Albon.