As the dust settled from a thrilling qualifying session in Mexico, Christian Horner reflected on seeing his drivers hand Red Bull a first front-row lockout in five years. Clearly delighted that Daniel Ricciardo had overturned his recent run of bad luck to snatch a third career pole, Horner was also mindful that Max Verstappen had missed out on the chance to become F1’s youngest ever polesitter by just 0.026s.
“Max is going to be feeling that,” he mused. And he was right.
Having rather succinctly described his qualifying session as “crap” on immediately stepping out of the car, Verstappen, who topped all three practice sessions and was fastest after the first runs in Q3, was still nonplussed when he arrived in the press conference, suggesting his car had let him down when he needed it most.
“It was just not good,” said the Dutchman. “I was struggling the whole qualifying, with the same problems I had in FP2, when I had a lot of rear locking, on the down-shifting and when I come off throttle. Somehow the behaviour was not correct.
“So we couldn't do anything throughout qualifying, so I just had to lock a lot of tools, go forward on the brake balance to try and stabilise the whole car. It’s not how you want to do qualifying, normally you go more aggressive and be more aggressive on all the tools. That’s it.”
Asked if he expected the issues to be problematic in the race on Sunday, Verstappen added: “We’ll find out. At the moment I don’t know.