After qualifying ninth for the Russian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen admitted he was somewhat surprised but happy to make it through to the final phase of qualifying, especially on the back of a difficult practice day on Friday.
The Scuderia Toro Rosso driver is hopeful of continuing his run of scoring points in 2016 on Sunday at the Sochi Autodrom, but admitted it was a difficult qualifying session on Saturday with the track being so slippery.
“I’m pleased and happy with today’s qualifying result,” revealed Verstappen. “Especially after a difficult day yesterday, where we were struggling a lot, to come back and get through to Q3 is something I honestly didn’t expect.
“In addition to that, I’d say this is one of the most difficult qualifying sessions of the season: the track is very slippery and as soon as you brake a meter earlier or later, you immediately lose a lot of lap time and lock-up the tyres… So you really have to be very focused and that’s what I did to end up P9.
“For sure tomorrow’s race will be another challenge because we are all very close, but I’m ready for it and hopefully we can carry on scoring good points.”
Team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr was unable to follow his team-mate through into Q3, missing out by the smallest of margins in eleventh, and bemoaned traffic on his final run when he felt he was on target to get through.
“I’m disappointed with not getting into Q3 today, because we’ve been very fast the whole weekend and we had the pace to end up in the top ten,” said Sainz. “I was putting a good lap together in my last Q2 effort but in the last sector I found some traffic that slowed me down.
“I will go back to the hotel a bit angry tonight, but the positive thing is that we know that we have the pace and we can perform well tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to the race.”