F1: ‘Crap’ qualifying frustrates Verstappen as record chance passes
By Chris Medland | RACER magazine and RACER.com F1 correspondent
Max Verstappen was left frustrated by a “crap” qualifying session at the Mexican Grand Prix that saw him miss out on another chance to become the youngest pole winner in Formula 1 history.
Fastest throughout practice in Mexico, Verstappen also led the way in the first runs in Q3 and looked set to beat Sebastian Vettel’s youngest polesitter record by 45 days before teammate Daniel Ricciardo pipped him by 0.026s. After knocking over the P2 marker board as he stopped on the grid, Verstappen says the Renault power unit was not performing how he wanted throughout the session.
“The whole qualifying was crap,” Verstappen said. “Again some problems with the PU — engine braking not what I wanted and kept rear-locking the car. So we tried to make the best of it. I thought it was going to be enough with the problems we had but it’s still good to be second. We will see what happens tomorrow.
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“It’s just not good. I was struggling the whole qualifying with the same problems I had in FP2, where I had a lot of rear-locking on the downshifting and when I come off throttle. Somehow the behavior wasn’t correct. So we couldn’t do anything throughout the qualifying.
“So I just had to lock a lot of tools, go forward on the brake balance to try and stabilize the whole car, but it’s not how you want to do qualifying. Normally you go more aggressive on the tools.
“Let’s say that I was surprised that I was first in Q3, because I didn’t feel good at all. Like I said before, it’s just really difficult to anticipate those things. I was driving around the issue, but in qualifying that’s not what you want.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner downplayed Verstappen’s issues, saying Ricciardo simply delivered a better performance on the final runs.
“You know, they have the same car, same opportunity,” Horner said. “Daniel did the better job in Q3 and he deserves the pole. All credit to him — it’s great for the team to have both up there and we just need to do a good solid job tomorrow.”
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ABOUT CHRIS MEDLAND
While studying Sports Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, Chris managed to talk his way into working at the British Grand Prix in 2008 and was retained for three years before joining ESPN F1 as Assistant Editor. After three years at ESPN, a spell as F1 Editor at Crash Media Group was followed by the major task of launching F1i.com’s English-language website and running it as Editor. Present at every race since the start of 2014, he has continued building his freelance portfolio, working with international titles. As well as writing for RACER, he contributes to BBC 5Live and Sky Sports in the UK as well as working with titles in Japan and the Middle East.