Sergio Perez says the extreme low-grip nature of the track in Miami during Friday practice left him feeling like he was driving in intermediate conditions.
While the relaying of the tarmac at the Miami circuit ahead of its second event has already led to ramped-up lap times, drivers were spotted struggling for grip throughout the two sessions, culminating in Charles Leclerc trailing into the barrier at Turn 8 late in FP2.
The Ferrari man highlighted the slippery tarmac as one reason for his crash, while Mercedes’ George Russell has stated the new surface means racing will be at a premium during Sunday’s race.
Perez has become the next driver to be critical of the track, arguing the conditions were equivalent to that of when the intermediate tyre is used.
“The conditions out there are very low, the grip especially in FP1 it felt like inter conditions pretty much, we were measuring wet conditions to inter conditions,” he declared.
The Mexican, who can take the Championship lead with a victory on Sunday, endured a troublesome first day in the States, classified P11 in FP1 before wounding up fourth in the second session.
Having managed to improve by seven places in the second practice hour, Perez still ended up 0.4s down on team-mate Max Verstappen at the top of the timesheets and concedes he wasn’t driving at his best.
However, the Baku race winner is remaining optimistic that a good baseline will enable things to come together for qualifying.
“We’ve been trying a few [things] with the mechanical balance, and yeah, I think we learned quite a bit, and in the long run I don’t think we managed to get a read because of the very few laps that we ended up doing out there. But generally, I think we got a good baseline.
“I haven’t had the greatest of Fridays but my [FP2] lap was also pretty bad. I locked up on the final corner, so there is quite a bit to come.
“I think together, with my driving, I am not driving really well today so I think that, if I’m able to improve my driving and get myself a bit more comfortable, it should be alright.”
Meanwhile, Verstappen enjoyed a positive day on Formula 1’s return to its conventional format, with the Dutchman asserting he discovered a good balance in his RB19.
“I think it was a good day,” the double World Champion assessed. “Initially I think it was getting used to the track a bit with the new tarmac, I think it was really ramping up a lot throughout the day, but always felt good in the car and we had good balance out there.”
Despite his team-mate’s complaints about the asphalt, Verstappen did not draw on the same remonstrations, citing that ultimately it’s the same for everyone.
“It’s still slippery off-line,” he said. “I think on the driving line it is quite okay, but as soon as you go a little off-line, it is a lot less grip.
“But it is the same for everyone, but most importantly today we had a good balance in the car to start with, so I felt happy.”
With both sessions being disrupted by various incidents, Verstappen admits there are still areas for Red Bull to work on in the one remaining hour of practice before qualifying, while also being wary of the threat of rain on the horizon for the weekend.
“I mean there’s still a few little things we want to look at,” he continued. “Ideally you want to be faster in every single corner, but that’s not always possible.
“We also have to see what the weather will do, but overall, a positive day.”