Hamilton & Verstappen unhappy with slippy, tyre-dominant Portimao practice

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Both Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen bemoaned the lack of grip after practice at the Portuguese Grand Prix on Friday.

Once again the two drivers look set to lock horns for the third straight race at Portimao, with the seven-time world champion finish almost 0.15s clear of the Red Bull driver in the second session.

However, with only five winter months since the last Formula 1 race at the circuit, the issues from the inaugural trip to the Algarve were repeated as drivers struggled.

“It’s just very tricky out there with the tarmac again,” said Verstappen. “It’s super slippery. I know it’s the same for everyone but it’s not really enjoyable to drive.

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“Of course the tyres have changed and of course we’ve lost a bit of grip from the car compared to last year but yeah, it’s very tricky out there and it’s a shame.

“Because it’s all about tyre prep, tyre temperature, and it shouldn’t be like that."

Only the usually faster soft compound, drivers were needing multiple laps before finally getting the tyre in the right operating window, but by then the peak grip had also slipped away.

As a result, Hamilton thinks tyre supplier Pirelli should have been more aggressive with their allocation. 

"I think everyone was struggling, sliding around out there. It’s definitely been a real challenge today," the Mercedes driver said.

“I think as it got hotter it got slower, this morning it seemed a bit better then it got windier and warmer this afternoon and it seems to have made it harder for people to find time and work on the balance on tyres, will be interesting to see if it stays the same at the weekend.

“We came here last year and the tyre was too hard, and come here again and it's the same [compounds],” he said.

“They’re harder this year, so it feels like we’ve come with the too hard compound, in my opinion, it should have been mid-range, C2, C3, C4, but everyone’s on the same ones so we’ll get through it somehow.”

As for the competition, the current championship leader is ready for another head-to-head battle with Verstappen.

“I think it’ll be a close run,” Hamilton admitted. “We look like we were close. I don’t know how Max’s lap was, mine wasn’t perfect. We’ve definitely got some time to come from the car and some improvements to make.

“I’m sure they have too, but it’s close as it has been the last couple of races, so it’s exciting.”