Q: Max, what was that thing going on between you and Valtteri Bottas in qualifying?
Max Verstappen: I think it was just not clever from him. I was preparing for my timed lap and I understand that he wanted a tow – but there was not one point for him being able to overtake me – and brake – under normal conditions. The result was he ruined my lap and destroyed his lap as well. If that happens once, okay, forget about it – but if you do the same thing again in Q3, that’s not smart.
Q: Did you see him after qualifying and have a word with him?
MV: No! Because I don’t need to be the person to go to him – he should come to me!
Q: Do you expect him to get a penalty?
MV: I don’t know about a penalty – but it was dangerous what he was doing. It was dangerous and unnecessary – and not clever!
Q: For you it had pretty grave consequences. Your lap was destroyed and any hope for a good grid position gone…
MV: Yes. That was the consequence!
Q: And the incident before, where you went wide in Turn 1?
MV: Yes, same story…
Q: You went wide because of him?
MV: Because he was locking up and I was afraid that he would hit my side so I thought that it is better to go wide. But I’d lost my set (of tyres) – I had to come in and had only one run in Q2. So that was all not really pleasant!
Q: That all sounds as if the two of you will never be best buddies…
MV: Ha, in Formula One you can never be best buddies – no matter what. The moment we speak I am over it and hopefully he learns from it.
Q: You said you have not spoken with him but aren’t you interested what was going through his head?
MV: My guess is nothing was going through his head that very moment!
Q: Without all these incidents what would have been your chances?
MV: If I check all the data before the red flag I could have challenged for P2. So it is a massive frustration, as we know that the speed is there. I know there are chances for overtaking in the race, but I prefer to start from row one than P9 - that is for sure.
Q: The first GP2 race in Baku was pretty chaotic with a first corner incident taking out four cars. There was also a lot of slipstreaming. Do you expect that to happen also tomorrow?
MV: I think so. But let’s hope we don’t lose four cars on the first lap. And never forget GP2 cars all have similar engines – and that will be the biggest difference to the F1 race.
Q: The Bottas incident aside, how would you sum up your driving on this track? Are you satisfied?
MV: Yes, actually very happy. I built it up very differently to what I did in Monaco – and it worked super well. I was improving with every session. And finally I arrived in Q3 and would have had a good lap. I am satisfied with myself, the car and the team – we all did a great job to improve the car compared to yesterday, so it is really annoying not to have the result that we would have deserved.
Q: You ran very little downforce…
MV: …yes, we’ve been slower than our competitors on the straights! You’ve probably seen that our rear wing is pretty tiny. We probably lose a bit of downforce through the low speed corners – but I think we’ve found a good compromise. But there is no magic stick that gives you more horsepower suddenly on the straights! (laughs)
Q: You been running now for two days on this new track: what is the hairiest part for you?
MV: I think it is sector two – corners eight to twelve. It is difficult and tricky to get to the limit. If you lock up going into the corner it is game over. In Q1 and Q2 you are trying to build up – to get it right in Q3.
Q: When you just said that you’ve learned from Monaco – what does that exactly mean?
MV: Well, it is basically about understanding the car more. We have a great car so there is no need to go on the limit straight away as you have margins to improve. So in Q1 you don’t need to be at one hundred or ninety-nine per cent – you will also make it into Q2 with ninety-two per cent. And then step it up for Q3.
Q: Isn’t it also a different psychological approach to a race having a car that is eligible for front rows?
MV: Yes, it is of course – and you probably need some weekends to grow into that!
Q: After the red flag and only a bit over two minutes left of qualifying all the cars lined up at the pit lane exit. Your teammate Daniel (Ricciardo) was at the front: wouldn’t it also have helped you being more at the front of that queue?
MV: Maybe. We can speak in the team about it. But in the end that is not the main reason why my qualifying was not as it should have been.