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Max Verstappen admits to qualifying confusion after Lewis Hamilton caught out

Max Verstappen clinched Red Bull's 100th pole position at the 2024 Chinese GP, while Lewis Hamilton suffered a Q1 exit for Mercedes

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Max Verstappen revealed he was confused by his opening run in Q3 before eventually improving to take his fifth pole position in five attempts in the 2024 Formula 1 season at the Chinese Grand Prix.

Verstappen initially went slower than his Q2 time and blamed the winds that puff across the flat Shanghai International Circuit, but added he was pleased with his overall performances as he topped every qualifying session.

With a forcible tailwind blowing down the 1.2km back straight of the Shanghai International Circuit in Q1, Lewis Hamilton had an even more costly miscalculation as he braked too late for the turn 14 hairpin and suffered a soul-destroying elimination.

“I would say it was a bit confusing in Q3 where on the first one run I went slower than in Q2, it might have been the winds,” Verstappen told select members of the press, including Total-Motorsport.com.

“Because it’s very difficult to to understand that anyway around here with the wind direction. It’s very sensitive to the balance of the car.

“But then for the final run, I didn’t really know what to expect but you just push on and everything just came a bit together. The grip felt a little bit more normal and I managed to to improve so that was very nice.

“I think overall, the whole of qualifying I was very happy, the car felt very well balanced as well so then naturally you can push on.”

No issues despite confusion

Max Verstappen celebrates pole position after qualifying for the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen celebrates pole position after qualifying for the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Depsite the initial confusion, Verstappen was still over half a second ahead of every non-Red Bull driver apart from Fernando Alonso in Q3, with the setup changes his team made from the sprint events to qualifying clearly paying dividends.

Sergio Perez was also over three-tenths beck while Ferrari Red Bull‘s closest challengers so far in 2024 – were nowhere to be seen and McLaren couldn’t get close either after Lando Norris took sprint race pole.

“I didn’t really feel like there was a massive track evolution,” Verstappen added. “Q1 maybe a little bit but also partly I guess because you come out of a race with a lot of deg, then you put new tyres on, low fuel, you have to get into it as well a little bit from your own side. But yeah, from Q2 to Q3 it was very, very little.”

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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