Max Verstappen felt he got as much out of his RB16 as he could during Saturday’s Qualifying session for the British Grand Prix, but he still ended up over a second behind polesitter Lewis Hamilton.
The Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver will start third at Silverstone, but Verstappen acknowledged that the pace of the two Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team drivers was too much for them to be contenders for pole position.
“In general, I would say we had a good qualifying session and got everything out of the car that we could,” said Verstappen. “My final lap in Q3 was good but you could see very early on that Mercedes were too fast, just like they have been for the past few races.
“I’m happy with P3 and it gives us a fighting chance for tomorrow, so I hope we can get a clean start and keep the pressure up. The wind is a big factor here and these cars are very sensitive to that.
“Yesterday it was really tricky with the low speed corners but we are still learning about the car and trying to improve it. I think we have found a good direction, it seems more predictable this weekend and it was a lot of fun to drive today.”
The Dutchman is expecting Mercedes to be unbeatable again on Sunday, but he hopes to at least maintain his position of third and be in the best place to take advantage of any mishaps from either Hamilton or Valtteri Bottas.
“I don’t think there was much more I could do but let’s see tomorrow,” said the Dutchman. “We will try to score some good points, at least stay in third, but we always hope for a little bit more.”
Albon Looking to do ‘Something Special’ after ‘Tricky’ Session
Team-mate Alexander Albon had a far more difficult afternoon at Silverstone, with the Thai driver finding himself eliminated in the second segment of Qualifying.
After crashing during Friday afternoon’s practice session and losing three-quarters of the final practice session on Saturday morning, Albon was always going into the session on the back foot, and, as expected, it was a tough session for him.
Albon only missed out on a Q3 appearance by less than 0.050 seconds but it means he will start down in twelfth with a lot of work to do to score good points whilst his team-mate is on the second row.
“We were looking pretty strong this weekend and yesterday was a lot better than today but it’s not a weekend to forget yet and there is still a race tomorrow,” said Albon. “We were on the back foot slightly heading into qualifying after missing the track time in FP3 and I just struggled getting up to speed.
“It was tricky out there, the wind is changing all the time and the balance changes with that so we needed a bit of fine tuning. The times in Q2 are also obviously very tight out there so a small amount of time was worth a lot of grid positions and we just lost out.
“It is what it is but tomorrow we have free tyre choice so hopefully we can do something special with that and get some good points.”
‘Frustrating’ to see Massive Margin to Mercedes – Christian Horner
Christian Horner, the Team Principal at Red Bull, says it is frustrating to see his team be as far away from the pole position time of Hamilton as they were in Qualifying, although they knew the Silverstone track was always set to suit their rivals.
Horner says it is up to Red Bull to keep the pressure on Mercedes but the pace deficit at Silverstone is noticeable, particularly in Qualifying trim.
“I would be lying if I said today hasn’t been frustrating, especially with the kind of margins we are looking at to Mercedes,” admitted Horner. “We know this track always suits their car but they are incredibly quick at the moment but we have to keep the pressure on them as much as we can.”
Horner admitted the track time lost by Albon was the main reason behind his early elimination from Qualifying, but he was impressed that Verstappen was able to get as much out of the RB16 as he did to be Mercedes’ closest challenger.
“The wind has a massive impact on the aero of these cars and their performance which can unsettle the car and in turn the driver,” said Horner. “It was disappointing for Alex and the Team not to make it to Q3 but losing the track time in FP3 hurt him, especially after yesterday’s off.
“Max did a great job to wring everything out of the car to line-up on the second row which is actually our best qualifying here since 2016. The gap to the front remains our focus and clearly there is work to do for us as a Team, but we won’t stop pushing.
“Our race pace is often more competitive compared with qualifying so hopefully we can maximize our points haul tomorrow with both cars.”