Verstappen perplexed by lack of Q3 pace after finishing fourth in ‘terrible’ Saudi qualifying
Red Bull took pole position for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – but it was Sergio Perez who claimed his maiden P1, with reigning champion Max Verstappen admitting he didn’t understand where his pace disappeared to in Q3 after ending up fourth.
Verstappen had shown strong pace throughout the Jeddah weekend, with Perez appearing be a step behind his team mate in the run-up to qualifying. But a stunning final lap from the Mexican gave him pole position, with Verstappen unable to do better than P4 as he finished behind the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.
And the Dutchman – who finished P2 across all three practice sessions – admitted that he was confused as to where his pace had gone to.
“It was not good,” said Verstappen of his Q3 performance. “Q1 and Q2, everything felt normal, felt good but then I don’t know, my first set [of tyres] in Q3 was terrible, I had no grip and honestly, I don’t understand because there was not really anything weird going on.
“And then the second set, again I just didn’t have a good feeling, I didn’t feel comfortable to put the power down, throw the car into the corners – and when you don’t have that around a street circuit, it’s not going to happen for you. And that’s exactly what happened.”
Verstappen entered the Saudi Arabian weekend with zero points to his name, after his late retirement at the Bahrain Grand Prix. But the Red Bull champion was at least cautiously optimistic about his chances in the race, having finished P2 here last year to Lewis Hamilton – who made a shock exit from Q1.
“Yes, it looks good,” said Verstappen of his race pace prospects. “[Ferrari] didn’t really do a long run so I don’t know against them, but from my side it felt good.”