Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen said that his fourth place in qualifying for the German Grand Prix was “the maximum [the team] could do“, because “if you don’t have the horsepower you can’t expect to be at the front”.
Verstappen’s fourth place came slightly easier than it could have been; Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was destined to start from the back of the grid due to engine penalties, whilst Lewis Hamilton suffered a hydraulic issue at the end of the first qualifying session, leaving him unable to continue any further.
Whilst the Dutchman says he was happy with his lap, he was still over six tenths of a second slower than Vettel’s pole lap, and couldn’t have achieved any higher with the horsepower deficit Red Bull has to other teams.
“Fourth was the maximum we could do. You have to be realistic going into Qualifying and if you don’t have the horsepower you can’t expect to be at the front. I was very happy with my lap, I feel we extracted the most out of the car so a satisfying day from my point of view.”
Verstappen started the second qualifying session on the yellow-walled Soft tyres – the “medium” compound available this weekend – and looked to be attempting a different race strategy to the top two teams, though had to abandon this when Marcus Ericsson ran wide in the stadium section, and left gravel and stones strewn across the track.
This caused the session to be red flagged, and meant Verstappen had to use a set of the UltraSofts – the softest available tyre – to put in his fast lap. This means that he’ll start the race on those UltraSoft tyres – not something he planned, but something he hopes can help him move forward.
“The plan was to start on Softs but the red flag in Q2 changed that. Looking back, I think we would have been ok but we wanted to make sure we progressed to Q3, so we will now start the race on Ultrasofts.
“This compound should be stronger for the start sequence. It’s then unknown how the tyres will degrade due to the track temperature being different from Friday compared to the race. Our pace should be better tomorrow than in Qualifying so with a good start I’ll see how I can progress. I think I’m starting on the inside which isn’t ideal but being on the second row helps.
“It was good to see all the fans out there, I’m not sure if they were cheering Sebastian as I was following him, or myself, but either way it was nice to see.”