Max Verstappen says that, in the cold conditions, a “bit too much” understeer in Q3 cost him a chance of getting pole position.
Mercedes has started at the front of each race this season, but it looked like there was a chance of that changing at the Nurburgring as Verstappen topped Q1 and went less than a tenth slower than Lewis Hamilton in Q2.
After the first round of laps in the final shoot-out, he was occupying P1 and looking good. As the track evolved, he, Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were all improving in the early stages of their final runs, but the Dutchman dropped off towards the end.
Therefore, he’ll start the race in P3, behind the Finn and the Brit respectively, and he thinks things could have been better.
“It was an interesting qualifying. Of course after missing the whole of yesterday, for everyone it was very busy today,” Verstappen said.
“Overall, I think it was a decent qualifying. Just in Q3, when it really mattered, I started understeering a bit too much and when it’s so cold when you’re understeering, you’re graining the front tyres and basically eating up the rubber.
“That cost me a bit of lap time, but overall I think we’re getting closer towards Mercedes which I think is very positive.
“So, in a way, I’m a little bit disappointed, I was expecting a bit more, but I think I can still be happy.”
Generally this season, the Red Bull has tended to be closer to the Mercedes on Sundays in terms of pace than it has in qualifying.
Verstappen is unsure if that will be the case at the Nurburgring though and expects the low temperatures to play an important role again.
“I hope so. It’s going to be even colder tomorrow, so it’s going to be even more interesting to see what the tyres are going to do, how they’re going to behave,” he added.
“Let’s see. It’s a fun track to drive so I’m just looking forward to it and we’ll see what we can do.”
Verstappen’s team-mate, Alex Albon, will start in P5, with the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc splitting the two Red Bulls.