Red Bull’s Max Verstappen concedes that he must have done “something wrong” with his tyre warm-ups during qualifying as he qualified P4 for the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Having been within two tenths of P1 all weekend, he was ultimately behind team-mate Sergio Perez and the Ferrari’s of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.
“It wasn’t amazing in Q3,” he told Sky Sports.
“In Q1 and Q2 everything was looking quite well, just my first time in Q3 was terrible.
“I don’t know, it was just like a completely different feeling with the tyres; they were just moving around a lot more so it was really difficult for me to drive.
“And when you have that bad of a build-up that you go onto a second tyre set and I just didn’t really feel comfortable and then that tyre set, I couldn’t really extract [performance] like I did in Q1 and Q2.
“On a track where the ambient temperature is coming down and everything – the track temperature’s coming down – you should easily improve but for me it felt quite flat or even worse throughout qualifying.
“It’s the first time I have something like that so it’s something we need to look into.”
The Dutchman said that the key to finding a consistent rhythm on a street track is to ensure that the tyres are at an optimal temperature, and he maintained that this should become perennially easier as the air cooled in Jeddah – particularly after the lengthy delay caused by Mick Schumacher’s red flag-inducing crash towards the end of the second session.
“It’s momentum but also tyre prep, tyre warm-up and of course I did something different,” he explained.
“Maybe it wasn’t the right thing. I was quite confident it would work – it was working in Q1 and Q2 but it felt really awful [in Q3] so it’s something that we need to look into.”
Perez claimed pole for the first time in F1 his career since it began with Sauber in 2011, and the 24-year-old is delighted for his team-mate.
“I’m complaining and I didn’t have a good feeling but the potential off the car is there and Checo did a great job today so I’m very happy for him and hopefully we can make it difficult for Ferrari also tomorrow in the race,” he said.
The top four were separated by less than three tenths of a second in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, making it anyone’s guess as to who will be the winner at the end of Sunday’s race.