Max Verstappen says that he was confident of claiming pole position in Portimao before encountering Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin. This did not seem to go down well with the Dutchman.
Qualifying for the Grand Prix brought to us a dynamic duel between Mercedes and Red Bull for pole, with Mercedes finding their groove with Medium tyres, whilst Red Bull failed to do so. In the end, the team chose to go with softs.
During the first Q3 runs, Verstappen was able to set a 1:18.209, the fastest time of the session, which later got cancelled due to track limit violations.
However, as the Dutchman came close to achieving that time without any issues, he was subject to traffic in the form of four-time world champion, Sebastian Vettel, leading to Verstappen swearing on his radio about how Seb contributed heavily to his eventual 1:18.7 for P3 on the grid.
“I thought I can do that lap again so I go out, I was within a tenth of the lap,” he explained. “Then in the last sector, I lost all my lap time with an Aston Martin in front, and then taking my tow on the line as well.
“So yeah, messy, but it is what it is.” I didn’t enjoy one single lap this weekend, just because of the state of the track,” he said.“The layout is amazing but the grip we are experiencing, I don’t think it’s nice. I know it’s the same for everyone but for me personally, it’s not enjoyable to drive.
“I started off in qualifying really slow, I had no balance in the car. We slowly got to a point where I was happier, but I was basically compromising one thing and then losing a bit of performance in the other thing.
It was just not nice. “Then I had my little moment in Turn 4 in the first run in Q3. In the end, showed that was the fastest lap.
“It just showed it was a really difficult session to get any kind of grip in it because that corner is flat and suddenly out of the blue, the car just snapped on me and I ran a bit wide.”
In contrast, his team mate Sergio Perez managed a P4 qualifying result, with the driver expecting a tight battle for the race. “It was very tricky out there.
I just about matched my FP1 time in Q3, so as usual, it’s a very tricky track for warm-up. It’s all about the tyres and getting them to the right temperature,” he explained.
“I was not very happy with the balance, I struggled a lot. It’s a bit of a shame that we were not able to qualify a bit higher, but I think we are in a good position for the race. It will be a tight battle, so looking forward to it.“It will be really close between us [and Mercedes].
Hopefully, we are able to pull something nice and beat them in the race.”