Max Verstappen was ‘best of the rest’ behind the two Mercedes drivers in Saturday’s qualifying session for the 2020 British Grand Prix, but the size of the gap to the front row on the timesheets was a painful lesson for Red Bull.
Verstappen ended the day a full second off the pole time and new track record set by Lewis Hamilton, with Valtteri Bottas also enjoying a sizeable advantage in second place.
“You could see of course very early on in qualifying that they were way too fast, like they have been the last faces races. You just have to accept that,” Verstappen acknowledged after the end of the session. “It’s a big gap, just tried to do the best we can.
Asked if Red Bull would have been closer if Friday’s superhot weather had continued into Saturday, Verstappen said: “We would still be quite a few tenths down,”
“I don’t think the warm weather makes such a big difference. If it would have been 35 degrees today, I would still have been third,” he told Motorsport.com. “It would have helped maybe a little bit, but not that much.”
“The lap itself was good in the end,” he said of his own effort which was a lot more competitive than it had looked on Friday in sizzling temperatures.
“With these new type of cars of the last few years, they’re very sensitive to wind because they are that big and that wide especially here at Silverstone. You can really tell that yesterday for example it was really tricky in the corners.
“Today the wind changes and it was becomes like a totally different car. Fortunately in the right way because it was a lot more fun to drive, but it’s a lot more sensitive,” he said. “We are clearly still learning about the car, trying to improve it.
“Overall the qualifying itself was pretty okay. I was pretty much all the time in third. There was not much more I think I could do,” he shrugged. “My final lap in Q3 was pretty good – I had a bit of a moment out of the final corner.
Lining up in third is certainly better than the last race where he was seventh on the grid, but went on to pick up second place at the chequered flag.
“After Hungary to come back and now be third place is a good start. In the race it’s different, I think we are mathematically a little bit closer in the race. I’m going to fight them, and at least you have a fighting chance starting third.
“We just hope to have a clean start. From there onwards I just try to do the best I can in the car,” he said. “If that’s try to follow them a bit, I think we can be happy with that. And score some points!”
Verstappen certainly performed better that his team mate Alex Albon, who lost time on Friday after crashing in practice and was then forced to sit out half of Saturday’s morning session while the team fixed a battery issue on his car without incurring a costly grid penalty in the process.
The Thai driver ended up being eliminated at the end of the second round in qualifying and will start tomorrow’s race from a lowly 12th place on the grid.
“I would be lying if I said today hasn’t been frustrating, especially with the kind of margins we are looking at to Mercedes,” Red Bull boss Christian Horner commented.
“It was disappointing for Alex and the Team not to make it to Q3 but losing the track time in FP3 hurt him, especially after yesterday’s off.”
“I wouldn’t say the weekend was terrible, just today hasn’t been very good,” Albon admitted to Sky Sports F1 afterwards. “We were looking pretty strong.
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“We missed track time obviously and the wind is changing all the time so balance changes with that. We missed a bit of fine-tuning. The times were close too so it is what it is.
“Tomorrow we have a free tyre choice, so hopefully we can make some positions again,”: he added. “Obviously I don’t want to have to keep doing all these overtakes, but hopefully we can score some good points tomorrow.”
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