“I hope we don’t come back” to Algarve circuit – Verstappen

2021 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen said he doesn’t want to return to Portugal’s Autodromo do Algarve after finishing second in yesterday’s race behind Lewis Hamilton.

The Red Bull driver admitted he hadn’t enjoyed driving at the circuit, which was resurfaced before its first F1 race in 2020, but still lacked grip when the championship returned last week.

Verstappen told Sky he was “looking forward” to the next race at the Circuit de Catalunya “because the whole weekend I didn’t enjoy because of the grip levels around here.”

“So first of all, I hope we don’t come back,” he continued. “Barcelona is good, it’s a nice track for an F1 car. And I think we’ll see more of how the progression of the teams have been from the start of the season to today.”

During the weekend Verstappen said he considered the Portuguese track one of his favourites before it was resurfaced. His team principal Christian Horner admitted “I don’t think Max has enjoyed this weekend.

“I think he’s been frustrated by the lack of grip and the conditions. But that’s obviously the same for everybody.”

Horner predicted this weekend’s race in Spain will further “clarify” the competitive situation between their team and Mercedes.

“As we progress into the summer, Barcelona next weekend, if it’s normal conditions, again, there’s so much data from that circuit and it’s a combination of medium, high-speed and low-speed corners, I think again, the picture is starting to clarify,” he said.

“You can see Red Bull and Mercedes are the two stand-out teams and Lewis and Max are the two stand-out drivers. And I think it’s just going to be really tight with the development race between the two teams over the course of the year.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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47 comments on ““I hope we don’t come back” to Algarve circuit – Verstappen”

  1. Max loves the Algarve circuit, this is just a click bait headline. He loves the country, the track, its environment and the people. Just not the top layer tarmac, that’s all.

    1. @Mayrton I don’t find the headline necessarily clickbait. Yes, he precisely dislikes the track surface, but what he probably meant by hoping not to return is that he’d be okay with racing there again only if the tarmac is grippier.

      Reply moderated
    2. That is what he said he loves the track before the resurfaced layer. I think Pirelli made a mistake to bring the hardest tyres to here as the need was more softer.

    3. and he was a little bitter, as one would expect. the merc is really good here as well.

      1. Probably a bit of that too @peartree; I do think that missing out both on pole and the FLAP after not having been fast enough to fight to get ahead in the last stage of the race might have soured his feelings about the weekend. Of course, one could say, it’s Red Bull re-learning and Verstappen learning, how a close WDC battle feels, and that small shifts, luck of lack of it can change the balance without the driver themselves feeling they can do too much about it sometimes.

        I also suppose too while for Verstappen it is the 1st time he can actually experience this in F1, that for Hamilton, with 7 titles behind him, it is exciting to have that closer fight again and less of a fraught struggle, especially since he has now won his 2nd race. Both of them complained (as I think most drivers felt) the tyres were too conservative for the track surface as it is, meaning that tyre warm-up is a tricky thing to get right. Sure, same for all (apart from cars working better/worse with that), but easier if you aren’t fighting for that 1st WDC maybe.

    4. Antonio Mineiro
      4th May 2021, 19:31

      Sorry.. pushed the wrong button and reported you… Now to Max… He hopes he never returns to every track he gets owned.. that’s all.

  2. Facepalmer
    3rd May 2021, 8:32

    Sounds like all kids when they lose in a game: “I don’t like it [the game]!”

    Reply moderated
    1. Agree. The conditions are the same for everybody.

      Reply moderated
  3. Yeah, let’s all not have French Open anymore as the ball grips the surface too much. Let’s boycott Indian cricket pitches as the ball spins too much.

    Do you ever hear such comments in other sports?

    Is the lack of grip causing a safety issue or increasing the risk to drivers or spectators? If yes, let’s all resolve it or if we can’t, then avoid coming here, sure. But if there is no safety issue, can’t take Verstappen seriously on this.

    1. Well, in the old days, players would not attend the French Open or Wimbledon or whatever because the surface didn’t suit them. Heck, even Federer decided to chose to play only Australia and Wimbledon in his later years, and he won both of them.

      And maybe you don’t know, but in South America for the World Cup qualifiers, going to places like Bolivia or Peru, with its high altitude, is very hard, and players hate it. It’s a big advantage for locals. An Argentinean coach once famously said “it’s impossible to play here, the ball doesn’t turn”.

      1. True that.

        But unfortunately, the good old days are no longer there. The Federer analogy is a good one. We already had one example recently of Alonso choosing the Indy 500 over Monaco in 2017. I feel Hamilton may decide to not attend a race (provided he has won the championship) e.g. Saudi Arabia to support the issues that he feels passionately about (human rights and others).

        1. The problem here is that Verstappen never said what the headline suggests.
          Bail and you took it.
          It always shows who is really following F1, that’s the good part of it.

          1. The problem is here that Verstappen literally said this.
            And then there are the people who pretend he didn’t just because they didn’t hear the interview.
            It always shows who is really following F1, that’s the good part of it.

          2. erikje, the quote used in the headline is taken from a direct quote from Verstappen – so, are you therefore accusing this site of fabricating the entire response?

    2. You forgot the Rafa’s moan about the wrong coloured clay, memorably a few years back – at Tennis’s Madrid Open. Yes! He’d lost as well

      Memorable, because it was so not like Rafa

  4. Reminds me of when the top riders in WRC were whining in the swedish rally because it was snowing, which made the roads a bit slower. I hope they come back to algarve, and ill gladly watch them slide around on a slippery surface, im not behind the wheel but enjoy seing them having to work more to get the car where they want to. More mistakes are better for the racing aswell, the easier the track the more predictable the racing will be.

  5. I very much hope we do go back to Algarve. It is a brilliant circuit, and with the possible exception of Silverstone, it is the best circuit for drivers running side by side for multiple corners.

  6. I’d rather see Portimao on the calendar every year than some of the circuits that are there in ‘normal times’ – Barcelona, Sochi and (say it quietly) Monaco.

    1. Agreed + Paul Ricard

      1. And Abu Dhabi….

  7. I agree with Max to a degree. Like him, I love the track layout, the design, and of course those glorious elevation changes. It looks like a ton of fun.

    I did however not enjoy all the drivers slipping and sliding around the track with no real mistakes from their end. I appreciate a good driver error, when they’re trying to find the limit and just overshoot it by the smallest of margins, that’s great stuff and shows their talent and the fact they’re driving on the absolute limit. But seeing drivers getting times deleted because they had to correct a slide in one of the corners, not so much fun.

    If we do return, I hope they can fix the track with a proper surface. I hope Turkey can do something about their tarmac before we go there, because as Lewis and Max predicted in the post-qualifying press conference, it’s gonna be another one of those over there.

    1. On the Marbles
      3rd May 2021, 10:37

      Is it really that different to what would happen in a wet race? Just means that the drivers have to concentrate more and adapt to the conditions, was great to watch. As far as I’m concerned as a viewer it’s a brilliant circuit.

      Reply moderated
      1. The teack combination with the wind makes it a lottery.
        That is not what racing should be.

        1. the wind and track does not make it a lottery, as you obviously saw how many drivers finished the race. Maybe go watch a season of any rally series and then comeback to see if you agree with your own comment.

        2. There was no lottery here, erikje.
          The most well prepared and skilled participants adapted the best to the conditions – that is absolutely what racing should be.

        3. LOL!!

          What red hot days and the track temps at 40C?

          Maybe they should ban any race that has a humidity higher than 30% and a temperature lower than 30C

          Mind you it would have cost Hamilton his 2008 title and the Merc does seem inferior under hot conditions

          Oh! I see what you mean

      2. I think comparing it to a wet race has some merit here (though next time, can we just take softer tyres and deal with it if it turns out they are a bit on the soft side please?!); having said that, it’s one reason I don’t fancy all races being wet, as it can get a bit too much of a random result. Not bad when it’s occasionally, but a bit of a rained-on parade when it is almost every week (of course, would it be always teams likely would soon get on top of the challenge …)

  8. Max is taking this lost opportunity too much to heart.
    That picture of him huddled in the shadow, face down, while Lewis did the post race interview: that was heart-breaking. I couldn’t help sobbing into my glass of Portuguese wine.

  9. What Max is saying is to me the same reason I don’t like wet races in that I feel for the drivers when they feel like they are on ice. I don’t blame Max at all. Of course it is the same for all, he and we all get that. And of course he came out of the weekend having done second best, which is a good points haul. But of course we also don’t hear him say things like he has about not wanting to come back when he comes second at other tracks, although he has implied he expects more of this at Istanbul. Such a shame because I think this track has such cool characteristics to it, but for the terrible surface. The tire choice of harder compounds for this race had to have been intentional too, since they knew how terrible the grip was from last year. They must have wanted some unpredictability ala a wet race.

    1. No, the surface is not terrible, didnt you see how fast they went around it? You are overly microanalysing Max’s words to agree with Max. For me, this is how motorsport should be, a range of grip levels for mililon dollar paid drivers to have a challenge, so they can actually “RACE”. Maybe Max should spend half a year in Rally cars on mixed surfaces and then he wont complain as much. You don’t hear Max complain after he wins a wet race, the type of race you just said you don’t like. Did you complain when Max won in Imola about the track grip levels?

      1. Yeah exactly. It’s much more impressive when the drivers all struggle a little with the track. It tends to help the better drivers come to the front more.

        The better drivers will not like it, but they will also realize it’s their chance to make the difference. When the track is perfect, the tires perfect and the car is fastest then drivers like Massa and Vettel can win races with ease too. When it’s wet or otherwise more difficult for everybody, then it’s drivers like Hamilton, Alonso and Senna that show their amazing skills.

      2. kpcart Lol how fast they went around it? They all complained of lack of grip. Imagine how fast they would have gone on a grippier surface. How fast do cars go in the wet? You seem to be ignoring Max’s words in order to disagree with him or me or both. Just because for you there should be a range of grip levels, which of course there are, does not mean Max has to enjoy what this track offered. But I’m pretty sure they were actually “RACING.” And I already said Max has never complained before like this. And why would I complain when Max won at Imola? Races come as they do, and just because I don’t like wet races in large part because I don’t like watching drivers have to tip toe around like they’re on ice, 15-20 seconds a lap slower, is irrelevant. Of course Max got on with it just as he does for every race, rain or shine, good grip or not, but that doesn’t mean he has to enjoy every venue the same. The shame is he likes Portimao but for the terrible grip. Gee what a shock that an F1 driver likes to have grip. They’d also all like to not have tires that have such a finicky window of operation.

  10. I see this like criticism on a bad football pitch. Some players hate it others love it because of it suits them better.

    But when you play on the World Cup you just expect the field to be top notch.

    In then end its just his opinion and it’s up tot the FIA and FOM to decide where we race

  11. Jockey Ewing
    3rd May 2021, 11:36

    I like the venue, and the beautiful surroundings. But seeing it at the second time, and seeing how most entrants struggled with grip, imo this slippery surface was not the right diretion. These cars would be astonishingly fast at a grippy surface, which would be very spectacular here by itself.
    So probably the slipperiness created micro-errors, and that created overtaking opportunities, but as further increasing aero downforce which causes even more aero dependency (and more loads on tyres), instead of providing more grippy tyres (their costs are small compared to the cost cap, 2x of it would be still small), and having a minimum “grip coeffiienct” requirement towards venues which can have a GP feels to be a better and more honest and more futureproof idea to me. I am not sure that Portimao’s owners chose to have a slippery surface by themselves or they were persuaded by F1’s organizers to finally have a GP.

    There is nothing wrong with changing rules, that brings engineering competition, and there is nothing wrong with trading tyres’ tread durability for more grip, but they can not curate the problem of dirty air and have more aero downforce at the same time, they are very far from the latter, unless they choose to have enormous but very very simple aero devices. And whether to have one additional pitstop to prevent blowouts, is mostly the responsibility of the entrants.

  12. I wish covid stops Max’s home race again, because that is a track not suitable for modern f1 cars, where as Algarve is great. The grip levels? it is the same for all of the drivers, but Verstappen is a new breed of young drivers that are spoiled with modern grippy tracks. I believe the tilke-drome tracks are designed with too much grip, making it too easy for the drivers.

  13. Perhaps the first admission of weakness I’ve heard from Max. Because that’s what it is: he’s effectively blamed the surface for underperforming relative to Hamilton. All the drivers had to deal with the same conditions, there was nothing especially prejudicial to the Red Bull. Horner’s comment that Max didn’t enjoy the conditions, wind and low-grip surface, and was ‘frustrated’ is quite revealing. It’s a Bottas-like comment for when he gets beaten. Taking Hamilton on over a championship means dealing with precisely these kinds of weekends (as Will Wood’s article rightly states) without excuses.

    1. @david-br I don’t see it as an admission of weakness at all. It is your choice to claim he is effectively blaming the surface. It’s ok for him to simply not enjoy such a slippery track. I highly doubt he is the only one that was frustrated, but of course as one of the two main protaganists for the season, his comments stand out more. I didn’t hear him making excuses when he explained it is the same for all. And after all, he did manage to split the Mercs. And he really didn’t miss out by much. De la Rosa after the race put it down to the Mercs having that bit more grunt on the straights when on a track with such little grip. He predicted Spain should much better suit RBR. Bottom line for me, being frustrated is not a sign of weakness. He’s been frustrated by not having the same might as the Merc pu for how long, and De la Rosa hinted that it still isn’t quite there, and as close as Honda might be for RBR, it might just be that they need a grippier track to show their car better. We heard several times during the race it was coming down to turn 8. So is frustration at a bit less pu a sign of weakness? At some point a driver just feels handcuffed to do much more, and that can be frustrating. And yeah, especially when it is now for all the marbles and not just the scraps. But I don’t think it is a weakness to know you can do more and to look forward to showing it next weekend.

    2. This is just how Max, and Dutch people in general are. Even if the situation is for everyone the same, we still complain. So for me (as Dutch) this is just normal criticize a place that was great last year. IMO, even if Max would’ve won it, he still complained about the track.

  14. @robbie I was surprised Max came out with such a strong comment. You have two mental options: admit you didn’t perform as well as you wanted (or your rival) and commit to doing better in the same conditions next time – or hope you never have to face those conditions again. It’s expressing hope of the latter which is a weakness, almost admitting defeat. Horner’s comment seems to be aimed at explaining that defeatism (‘he’s frustrated’) but it doesn’t cancel it out. Personally, I like these tricky conditions and idiosyncratic tracks. They seem more like earlier era Formula 1 where not everything is tailor-made for perfect racing. But setting aside that point, my feeling is that this is a ‘reset’ moment for Max. He’s realized he needs other reserves (performance levels) to compete for the championship. I think he’ll recalibrate. He has the potential to rise to LH’s level. It’s just fascinating watching that process unfold.

    1. @david-br Yeah good comment. I still think all it was was Max saying he hates not having grip. He had already said after qualifying that he hadn’t enjoyed a single lap. And lol at least in the rain you expect that, but not when it is dry. One of the first things LH said was that they (FIA) brought tires too hard for the track, although ironically they all ended up on the hards, lol. For sure Max is going to take and draw from this and I wonder if, compared to this weekend, next weekend he’s going to feel like he’s on rails. Of course, they all should.

      1. That’s my expectation @robbie, I think Red Bull/Max could or should win in Spain. Max will want to bounce back and the circuit should favour them. What will be interesting to see in a ‘normal’ race is how Perez and Bottas fair relatively. It should be a good benchmark overall.

        1. Barcelona could actually be wet. But at best it’s unlikely to be as hot as some seasons. But clearly the track should suit better

          However, I don’t quite get this optimism – considering Hamilton has danced away with this one for the last 4 seasons and the Merc is usually strong

          I think there’s a danger of underestimating the Merc – just like some did pre-season

  15. Only 3 races in and the pressure is getting to Him?

  16. “The conditions are the same for everybody.”

    Sure they are, but nobody would ever defend the decision to drive a GP on a dirt track, even though “the conditions are the same for everybody”.

    This is about the minimal grip level a decent GP track needs to have. Portimao doesn’t, that’s all Max says.

    Reply moderated
  17. Cut this up any way anyone wants. This is up there with one of the best moans of the last few seasons off a driver

    Add his digs at track limits been against him etc, he’s moaned more in the last month than he has since he joined F1

    He’s heading for that vintage season of 2011. Vintage for all the moaning Hamilton did. Where of course the stewards were ticking him off for crashes he caused “because I’m black” as he’s memorably put it!!

    Problem is that it ended up to be easily Hamilton’s worst season and like Vettel was around and after Baku 2017 – it can be a slippery slope

    In fairness Lewis did moan about the track as well, but not just after he’d been beaten in the race

    Young Max has some growing up to do and fast. This delights more experienced rivals

  18. Love all the people that think this about his second place. He complained about the surface in practice.

    Reply moderated
  19. …after finishing second in yesterday’s race behind Lewis Hamilton.

    As a thought, how is it Max is considered to have finished Second when his lap time was deleted by the Stewards? I’m guessing the lap he’d done which momentarily held the Fastest Lap point is still recognised as having been completed otherwise they would have to say he had only done 65 laps and not 66 laps, i.e. he finished about 12th place. To me it would be grossly unfair to deny him Second Place because he’d gone off the track, but how else is it that one can have their lap time deleted and still be considered to have completed that lap?

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