Red Bull boss Christian Horner has said Max Verstappen was set to deliver the “lap of the year” in Q3, but it ended in the wall.
With Lewis Hamilton on provisional pole for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, his title rival Verstappen knew a special lap was needed to get that crucial P1 on the grid at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.
And he was on to deliver it, until a brief snap of the rear end sent him into the wall, causing damage to the rear right area of the car and ending Verstappen’s hopes.
It left him to start the first Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from P3, with Horner branding the way that wonder lap ended a “great shame”.
“That was looking like the lap of the year to be honest, it was a great shame,” Horner told Sky F1.
“We are on the back foot here and that was pulling something very special out of the bag.
“He just grabbed the front into the last corner there, tried to keep the momentum – obviously you could see on his dash he was 0.4 seconds up going into the corner and unfortunately he has run out of road.
“Pretty brutal, but let’s hope the gearbox isn’t damaged and it’s not a gearbox penalty as that would be especially brutal. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”
A dramatic ending to qualifying in Jeddah!
Max Verstappen hits the barriers on his final flying lap 💥
— Formula 1 (@F1) December 4, 2021
Asked if Verstappen will be annoyed with himself for such an error at this crucial time in the season, Horner replied: “He will be frustrated, I’m sure, he knows what a good lap it was.
“So he just needs to put that behind him now. He’s still P3 on the grid, needs to have a good start – anything can still happen in this race.”
Judging by the Formula 2 action, overtaking will not be easy around the street circuit in Jeddah.
And so Horner believes it will be all the other in-race factors that will decide the final outcome.
“I think it will be very hard to overtake here so it’s going to be strategy, what happens with Safety Cars, reliability,” Horner explained.
“Grid position on any street circuit is crucial.”
That said, Horner made it clear he does not need to pick up Verstappen or the Red Bull team, arguing that from P3 it is still all to play for in Jeddah.
“We keep fighting. If he had finished that lap it would have been a very different conversation we are having,” said Horner.
“He’s still P3 on the grid, the race is still tomorrow, the points are at the end of the grand prix. We will give it everything we’ve got.
“Things haven’t gone our way today and that’s just motor racing sometimes. We’ll keep fighting, we’ll keep pushing, he’ll come back strong tomorrow.”