The Red Bull Racing camp will be pondering over what could’ve been at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve as Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez qualify third and fourth respectively.
It could have so easily been pole for Verstappen, who saw his fastest lap deleted after running wide at turn four, which to his credit only happened to prevent a spin! Nevertheless his last lap of a 1:18.746 in the final qualifying session saw him nearly four-tenths off polesitter Valtteri Bottas, on what has been a difficult circuit to tame all weekend.
“Third is of course not what we wanted but it’s not too bad after I had a Q3 lap time deleted, which would actually have put us fastest even though I lost time with the snap at Turn 4,” said Verstappen. “We struggled with the balance in Q1 and Q2 because of the track surface, and everyone is chasing grip, but we got to a decent level in Q3 so I don’t think we are too far off. It was really one of those sessions where you could end up in P1 or P3 out of the blue.
“You could do a lap which was pretty good and then put another set of tyres on, and if you had just a little bit of a different out lap and tyre preparation, with the lack of grip around here it makes a big difference and is hard to predict. I think we are still competitive and it will be different in the race tomorrow.
“Our long runs have been ok and although it’s going to be hard to follow with the grip levels we will first focus on a clean start and then put the pressure on.”
“I’m not entirely happy” – Sergio Pérez
For Pérez, fourth place was the best he could manage. By the end of qualifying three he found himself over half a second behind Bottas with a 1:18.890, he also failed to make it back to back weekends of out-qualifying Verstappen.
The Mexican driver has a busy race ahead of him on Sunday as he looks to find the right balance on his car.
“It wasn’t a great qualifying on my side, it was very messy in terms of finding my rhythm and so I’m not entirely happy with my lap time,” said the Mexican. “I wasn’t very happy with the balance and I just struggled a lot so it’s a shame we weren’t able to qualify higher.
“This track is all about the tyres and getting them to the right temperature which is very difficult. I tried everything in terms of warm up with my out laps, build laps, push laps but nothing seemed to work.”
“The conditions with the wind made it more tricky and they probably suited the Mercedes better but we still have a good starting position and a great opportunity tomorrow so anything can happen. I think it will be a tight battle around us so I’m looking forward to that. We just need to put the pressure on the Mercedes and hopefully we can fight for a podium.”