Verstappen had been fastest in every single session of the weekend leading up to Q2 but after he got out of shape early on a flying lap, his car went into ‘limp home mode’, ending Saturday.
In contrast to almost every other team, Red Bull have had almost no reliability problems leading up to the race but it means Verstappen has it all to do in the race.
“It’s something I don’t understand,” Verstappen told reporters after qualifying. “We never really had any issues with it, so far, but it happened. So we’ll analyze everything and try to understand how that happened.”
Verstappen refuses to look on bright side
Verstappen‘s early exit meant Sergio Perez was the man to beat after Red Bull had looked rapid all weekend in Jeddah.
He duly delivered, reaching pole comfortably ahead of Charles Leclerc in a session where Ferrari only showed their true pace late on.
Leclerc will line up three places ahead of Verstappen though, thanks to his 10-place grid penalty for changing an engine component.
It’ll be difficulty for Verstappen to fight through the field on the tight and twisty Jeddah Corniche Circuit but if anyone can do it it’s a Red Bull driver, and he could still contend for the podium or even a win.
However, when asked whether Red Bull‘s speed softened the blow, Verstappen had a blunt response.
“I think it shouldn’t matter if the car is really quick or not,” Verstappen said. “I think you should always be as let’s say disappointed or upset when things go wrong and we have to make sure that these things don’t happen again.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re finding upfront or lost you know, you want the car which is reliable.”