Max Verstappen says his power unit problem during qualifying for the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix disrupted his session, though he doesn’t believe he had the pace to beat the Mercedes.
The Red Bull driver had to abandon his first run in Q2 after experiencing a misfire, which the team repaired by fitting a new spark plug.
“I don’t know exactly what it was,” said Verstappen. “Of course the bodywork had to go off and I think the mechanics did a very good job to to fix my car.”
Verstappen was still able to make the cut for Q3 after doing another run on a set of the medium compound tyres. But it cost him the opportunity to do an extra run on softs at the end of Q2 to prepare for the final round of qualifying.
“It basically ruined a bit my qualifying because you have to go out on a medium, try to nail the lap. We just managed to go through, of course, on that. But the reference was a bit off.
“The first lap then in Q3 the tyres were too cold because I was in a bit in the middle of the train. I never really got into a nice rhythm where you know that ‘okay. I’ve got a bit of time left there, I can push a bit harder’. It was all a bit messy.
“So even in Q3, the last lap, I was like, ‘I think we could have done quite a bit better here if we just had a smoother qualifying’. But if you have that in Q2 and you qualify on a different tyre as well mid-way through it’s not great.”
However Verstappen doesn’t think he could have beaten the Mercedes drivers. “I just wanted to be a bit closer, make it a bit more exciting.
“But today it was just very tricky and I never really found that rhythm you normally get throughout qualifying that you know ‘okay, we put a new tyre set on and I know where to find the lap time’. I was just still learning to go faster. So it’s a bit of a shame but still third, so [I’m] back in my seat.”
Following an encouraging run in the morning’s single practice session, Verstappen hopes he may be more competitive over a race distance.
“The long run was alright so hopefully we’ll be a bit similar tomorrow. Let’s hope that the top speed-wise, we are in a good position. I don’t think it’s going to be very easy to pass anyway but we’ll see what we can do.”
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2020 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix
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