Seventh place on the grid was not what Max Verstappen was hoping to achieve during qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix, with the Dutchman putting it down to losing too much time in the final sector of the lap at the Sochi Autodrom.
The Red Bull Racing driver ended up 0.256 seconds behind team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who qualified fifth, but 1.967 seconds down on the pole time set by Sebastian Vettel, but Verstappen insisted fifth had been the target ahead of the session.
“A frustrating day all things considered, we knew this would be one of our toughest tracks of the season but I had hoped qualifying would go better than that,” said Verstappen. “Q1 was not too bad for us but in Q2 I had a really bad feeling with the rear tyres and I suddenly lost grip, especially going into the last sector.
“Sector 1 and 2 went well on most of my laps but the time just fell away in sector 3 as I just didn’t have the heat in the tyres. P5 was our target and that looked possible based on my first sector splits but the time I lost in the final sector cost me that goal.
“In Bahrain our car had a good set-up and worked with the tyres but here the long straights make it very hard to go quick and compete at the front.”
Fifth remains the target for Verstappen on Sunday, with the gap between Red Bull and the two teams up front likely to remain too big to bridge on race day.
“Tomorrow should be a one-stop race and we will of course try to push and go forward but I just think the top four are too quick here,” said Verstappen. “The target will remain P5 in the race tomorrow which would be a good result for us here.”