Max Verstappen says he no longer enjoys driving at Portimao after criticising the levels of grip available from the track surface.
The venue, which joined the pandemic-hit calendar in 2020, was resurfaced prior to last October’s event, and drivers struggled for grip due to the conditions.
Portimao has remained on the 2021 calendar and drivers have struggled once more, with the situation accentuated by the downforce cuts made to this year’s cars, as well as Pirelli’s decision to bring its hardest compounds.
Valtteri Bottas’ pole position time was 1.7s down on Lewis Hamilton’s Q3 benchmark from six months ago.
Verstappen had set a time quick enough for pole position during Q3 but it was deleted after he was judged to have exceeded track limits through Turn 4, with his follow-up effort sufficiently only for third.
“We are struggling a lot to find the balance and 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 is nice.
“I know it’s the same for everyone but for me personally, it’s just not enjoyable to drive.
“I started off in qualifying really slow. I just had no balance in the car. We slowly got to a point where I was happier, but it was basically just compromising one thing and then also losing a bit of performance in the other thing.
“It was just not nice, and then I had a little moment at Turn 4 on the first run in Q3. In the end that was the fastest lap but it just shows that it was a really difficult session to get any kind of grip because the corner is flat and suddenly out of the blue the car just snapped on me and I ran a bit wide.”
Verstappen added that he was braced for another tricky experience at Portimao after watching the recent MotoGP round at the venue.
“I checked the MotoGP times and they were the same already [as 2020],” he said.
“I know of course they have a little bit of a different front tyre but in general it’s just poor.
“I remember coming here last year before the grand prix and it was one of my top three favourite tracks but then they changed the tarmac and yeah, I don’t enjoy it anymore.”