Aston Martin Red Bull Racing were left slightly frustrated with their qualifying performance. Max Verstappen, who has consistently put in good performances, could only get fifth.
Being the closest competitor to the two Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team drivers of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas and with the Brackley outfit losing ‘party mode’, some may have believed this was the weekend for Verstappen to steal pole.
This, however, wasn’t meant to be and put in a lap nearly one second slower than front runner Hamilton.
“From our side we have not really had a good weekend so far and we seem to struggle to find the perfect balance with low downforce on the car. It becomes more difficult to hold on through the corners and we lack grip, which resulted in fifth today,” said Verstappen.
“You can say that we are slightly down on power but that is no excuse as there are other things we need to fine tune on a track like this and clearly we are also lacking a bit of pace through the corners. I tried everything I could, we tried all the wing levels that are possible to run at Monza but the end lap time was the same.
“In the race normally we are a bit more competitive and I think a podium is still possible tomorrow. It won’t be easy to overtake and we are all very close from third to tenth but I expect we can still fight for third and we won’t talk about Mercedes, they’re on another level.
“Monza is a very special type of track and when we go back to a more normal layout, I expect to see us back in third again.”
Albon ‘Happier with the Car’ at Monza despite Messy and Hectic Qualifying
Alexander Albon was out qualified by his team-mate for an eighth race running. Although his time wasn’t too far off Verstappen’s, it still left him in ninth.
The Thai drivers’ season has been marred with issues and he is aware, with the midfield battle heating up, that Monza will not be an easy race. He had two lap times deleted for track limits, the first of which left him dangerously close to elimination in Q1, with Albon getting through both Q1 in fifteenth and Q2 in tenth!
Albon stated: “As we expected it was another messy and hectic qualifying around here which made it difficult to do your lap just at the right time. Overall it has been a tricky weekend for us as a Team and we’re obviously disappointed with the result in qualifying today but personally speaking I’ve been happier with the car here.
“It’s been a smoother weekend for me and of course ninth doesn’t really show that but we’re a good step closer to Max and that’s positive. As a Team we’re further down than we want to be and coming here we knew it was going to be a difficult weekend as these low downforce types of circuit don’t suit us as well as they do the others just like we saw in Spa.
“The McLarens are very strong on the straights and the Racing Points also came from nowhere today but at the same time we hoped to have a bit more time in hand. There are a few corners which we just haven’t quite hooked up and so we’re losing time there compared to those around us but our race pace is a bit stronger and hopefully with tyre degradation here we can do something tomorrow but we are not expecting an easy race.”
“It was a pretty average qualifying for us” – Christian Horner
Team Principal Christian Horner thinks the qualifying session was pretty ‘average’ for the team. Red Bull have been charging to get to Mercedes pace but feel like they have taken a small step backwards with lap deletions and second margins.
“It was a pretty average qualifying for us, and Mercedes are a long way ahead but a tenth or two thereafter makes a huge difference and we didn’t have the cleanest of runs, especially with Alex losing a few lap times.”Stated Horner.
“The car has not been particularly happy here and fifth for Max is a bit frustrating as it was so close to third, but we didn’t expect to be fighting for pole. Meanwhile, Alex is only a couple of tenths behind Max but with such a tight pack that puts him in ninth so he’ll have work to do in tomorrow’s race.
“We have a bit to look at tonight but we know both of our drivers are good racers and they will be on the attack tomorrow which should make Turn 1 interesting. A track like this hasn’t been our strongest venue and so we’ll work on understanding and improving the areas we’re lacking in so that we can get the most possible out of tomorrow’s race.”