Although he did claim pole position for Sunday’s race, he too was a victim of deleted laps for going over the track limits; but always fast, his banker or backup laps were always good enough anyway. Not so Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull, whose tiny error cost him second place on the grid, he was P15 at the end of it all.
In total 47 laps were deleted during Qualifying yesterday by FIA Race Director Niels Wittich and his team of stewards calling the shots from race control and the command centre in Geneva.
During the hectic session, around the shortest tracks on the F1 calendar, where the margins are the tiniest that will be seen all season after a fourth lap of his was binned, Verstappen fumed over the RBR team radio: “This is a joke. Honestly, with these track limits, f@cking ridiculous.”
Later, after qualifying with Ferrari duo, Charles Leclerc (P2) and Carlos Sainz (P3) all they spoke about in parc ferme was the track limits issue that marred the session on Saturday.
Speaking in parc ferme after his 26th F1 career start, Verstappen said: “It was very difficult because of all the track limits. You know, we don’t do this on purpose. But with these speeds and all these high-speed corners, it’s so hard to judge the white line, really. And that’s why I think you could see today a lot of people getting caught out, including myself.
“So honestly, it was about surviving. Even in Q3, like the first lap, you just want a banker lap, which takes out the joy a little bit, but I think it still did a good enough lap. So yeah, very happy with being on pole. But it’s still a very long weekend ahead as well.”
Max: If it was that easy, then you can take my car and try it
Later Verstappen elaborated on the track limits saga in the FIA-hosted top three press conference: “I think it’s one of the worst tracks for it, with the track limits. Also, especially towards the end, the tyres are getting really hot so they’re not as agile anymore as well compared to the beginning of the lap. But it’s super hard to judge around here.”
“You have all the compressions as well,” explained Verstappen, where if you hit it slightly wrong, the car immediately drops away from you or understeers and then it’s super easy to go over the white line. And I think today it looked very silly. It almost looked like we were amateurs out there, the number of lap times that were getting deleted.
“And also, some of them were so marginal, that even we spoke about it in the briefing before that, when it’s very marginal, it’s impossible to judge if it’s out or in, and they were still getting deleted. So I don’t think it was a good look today.
“Of course, people can say, ‘Yeah, well, then you just stay within the white lines’. Well, if it was that easy, then you can take my car and try it. But probably you won’t even get up to speed in time. But yeah, it is super tricky. And I think today showed that.
“I think it’s still not easy to have a clear rule about it, because on most tracks, it works really well. But on some tracks, you might need something different. Because of course a lot of the tracks we share it with MotoGP or whatever, bike championships in general.
“And of course, they want something else outside of the kerbs than what we would like. I mean, for us putting gravel there, it’s fine. But for a bike, it’s a bit different. So we need to think about maybe different solutions,” ventured the double F1 World Champion.
Nevertheless, despite the deleted lap saga on the day, the cream rose to the top, and at the very top, when all was said and done, Verstappen was fastest and will start the Grand Prix from pole position on Sunday, easy favourite to win a fourth in a row, as he galavants to a third title with Red Bull. You can’t delete that!