Verstappen: It’s not been a lot of fun to drive here

verstappen perez angry portimao qualifying

Conditions in qualifying for the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix caught out several drivers, including Max Verstappen who declared it was no fun driving in tricky conditions in qualifying and had to be satisfied with fourth on the grid.

Verstappen’s cause was not aided by the fact that Mercedes found a huge dollop of power to claim the edge over Red Bull in Portimao this weekend, in the past two races it has not been the case.

The Red Bull driver was not happy as he alighted his car, after complaining about traffic during his final flying lap after having his first flying lap deleted due to a track limit infringement, that time would have seen him start the race on pole.

Hence the frustration Verstappen vented as he shooed away an official F1 cameraman as he huddled with teammate Sergio Perez who was fourth fastest on the day. The Mexican’ best lap time was a tenth and half shy of his teammate’s best effort.

Afterwards, Verstappen told reporters: “I thought qualifying was very difficult to drive. I was struggling a lot with the grip. That first lap in Q3 was decent but I just had a moment at Turn 4, so I went a little bit off track [and had his time deleted].

“I was quite confident we could do another good lap but there was a car in front in the last two corners – it just disturbs you, especially with the low grip we already have and the tough wind out here. Basically, it cost me a lot of lap time. But it is what it is.

“Of course it’s not ideal but we will try and fight the Mercedes tomorrow in the race. Hopefully, everything stabilises a bit more, because up until now, it’s not been a lot of fun to drive here.

“I lost time with the snap at Turn 4. We struggled with the balance in Q1 and Q2 because of the track surface, and everyone is chasing grip, but we got to a decent level in Q3 so I don’t think we are too far off.

“It was really one of those sessions where you could end up in P1 or P3 out of the blue.  You could do a lap which was pretty good and then put another set of tyres on, and if you had just a little bit of a different out lap and tyre preparation, with the lack of grip around here it makes a big difference and is hard to predict.

“I think we are still competitive and it will be different in the race tomorrow. Our long runs have been ok and although it’s going to be hard to follow with the grip levels we will first focus on a clean start and then put the pressure on,” added Verstappen.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner summed up his team’s afternoon: “It was a difficult qualifying session today, particularly with the very windy conditions, but both drivers progressed through to Q3 on the medium tyres which gives us better strategy options in tomorrow’s race where we lock out the second row of the grid.

“Max’s first run in Q3 was quick enough for pole but unfortunately his lap was deleted for track limits after a gust of wind at Turn 4 unsettled the car, causing him to run only millimetres wide. Max’s second and final run was then compromised by traffic so it was a rather frustrating third place for him.

“Checo did well meanwhile to recover from a little scare in Q1 after he briefly visited the gravel trap to take fourth alongside Max. Hopefully, both cars can get a good launch and a clean run in tomorrow’s race to make life difficult for the two Mercedes in front,” concluded the Red Bull team boss.