Max Verstappen was unable to get ahead of a less than perfect Scuderia Ferrari, finishing sixth during qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Red Bull Racing driver managed to better his time on all laps except when it mattered most. An unfortunate scuffle for position pushed him back and scuppered his fast lap preparations. The tyre’s delicate nature leaves them undriveable under less than ideal circumstances.
“In general the whole qualifying was very positive and we improved with every session up until the last run where I just got hurt in the preparation,” he said. “Felipe (Massa) squeezed in front and I had to stay in first gear to keep a gap to him so the tyres cooled down which hurt my first sector.
“If you lose straight away two tenths then it’s not ideal and you try to catch up but it’s very hard if the tyres are not in the window.”
Despite the disappointment, Verstappen was confident that the car hinted at a decent pace even if it wasn’t put to best use; he blamed his time of 1:29.687s on the unfortunate circumstances that he found himself in rather than a lack of performance.
“The pace was there today but just not on the last run when it counted, but sometimes that happens if you have some traffic,” he continued. “We have made many small improvements and tried to optimise everything which seemed to work and we understand the car more and more with every run that we do.”
Verstappen also echoed his team-mate sentiments on their improved ability, stating that Red Bull has managed to reduce the deficit to Ferrari. He still sees Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team in a league of their own, however.
“We are definitely closer, I think Mercedes is still too fast for us but the Ferrari doesn’t look too far ahead,” he added. “Our car seems to work much better on this track so hopefully we will get a clean start with no incidents and then see what we can do in the race.”
Despite starting lower down the grid than he would have desired, Verstappen proved last time out in China that nothing is impossible. He shouldn’t be ruled out for another podium spot tomorrow.
“It was definitely possible to be a bit further forward but last time I started a bit further behind and ended on the podium so anything is possible,” he said.