Max Verstappen doesn’t rate his chances of taking the lead when the race starts on Sunday, as he will be on the dirty side of the grid.
The Red Bull driver went third fastest in an entertaining qualifying session on Saturday, behind the dominant Mercedes cars of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
However, because of a 10-place grid penalty coming Hamilton’s way due to an engine change, Verstappen will move up to the front row on Sunday – which he feels will end up being a disadvantage to him at the start.
With World Championship rival Hamilton looking to carve his way through the field as well, the Dutchman does not think he will have an easy job to keep the Briton at bay if he closes in.
“The main problem I have is that I’m starting second so it’s on the inside, and it’s very low grip – in the dry and in the wet compared to the outside, so I’ll probably already lose out there,” he explained to Sky Sports F1 after qualifying.
“So that’s not going to be ideal and, of course, overall we’re also lacking pace compared to them [Mercedes], so I expect it to be quite difficult to fight them tomorrow.
“Of course, Lewis will have a bit of a harder job coming to the front, but I think it will still be quite difficult to keep him behind, with the pace they showed in qualifying, but also in their long runs.”
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) October 9, 2021
Given Mercedes’ pace advantage throughout the course of the weekend so far, even if he was able to keep in touch with Bottas in front, Verstappen doesn’t believe that strategy will be able to have much of an influence in how the race will pan out – but he insists Red Bull will not give up.
“We’ll try everything we can of course, but we also need to stay realistic, and I don’t think there’s a lot you can force or change,” he said.
“But let’s see tomorrow how difficult it is to pass because we don’t have [any] real indication, but we’ll do our best.
“It’s quite a hard track on the tyres because of all the fast corners, and of course with the track being quite green again because of the rain and driving with rain tyres on it, that will be also a bit of an unknown for everyone tomorrow.”
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