Max Verstappen believes tyres and traffic prevented him from being closer to Mercedes in Q3 ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix.
Verstappen will be starting a familiar third on the grid for Sunday’s race after finishing 0.475s behind the eventual pole sitter Lewis Hamilton. Valtteri Bottas completed the front row 0.086s behind.
But the Dutchman felt he could have been closer had he been able to have a clean run in the final session.
“Q2 was a very good lap, but also the tyres were switched on. Around here, your tyres, that makes quite a bit of a difference,” Verstappen told reporters when reflecting on his qualifying session.
“In Q3, my first run, I went into Turn 1, the rear tyres were still not gripping up for me, so I lost a bit of time there. And from there on, my lap was pretty stable compared to Q2, so it was not bad.
“Then my final run in Q3, I got a bit of traffic on my out-lap and when I started the lap, they just felt cold, the tyres had no grip and I was already two-tenths above it, so I decided to abort.
“I don’t think it’s [the gap] half a second anyway.
“In Q3, I just didn’t get the tyres to work, and around here that is very crucial, because in Q2 we were competitive.
“We know we have some work to do to catch up, but I think as a team we keep pushing very hard to try and do that as soon as possible.”
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) May 25, 2019
Verstappen also revealed that P3 was very much in mind for this weekend and has already put down some early ground work.
“The funny thing is that two of my practice starts have been from P3, so I rubbered my own box and it looks good,” Verstappen joked.
“So we’ll see what’s going to happen, but I’m happy about today. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.”
Red Bull boss Christian Horner thinks Verstappen played his part in providing the team with their best qualifying session of the year so far.
He said: “In reality we are probably a tenth or two shy. Mercedes are pretty mighty at the moment. Those guys are fighting for the championship, we’ve got a grandstand seat.
“To be on the second grid here, Pierre in fifth as well, it’s out best qualifying of the year.”
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