Max Verstappen says a big moment at Turns 5-6 on his first flying lap in SQ3 in the sprint shootout at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix cost him a chance of pole for the sprint.
Verstappen lost three tenths of a second to teammate Sergio Perez in the middle sector and ended up 0.290 seconds behind shootout winner Charles Leclerc after the Dutchman improved on his second lap.
Most drivers didn’t improve on their second SQ3 effort as the soft tyres had lost their best performance in the warm temperature in Baku.
“I think everything was going quite well,” said Verstappen. “The pace was good but in Q3, on the first run on the softs, I had a big moment at Turn 5-6, then because of that the tyres were really hot and then I had a moment at Turn 7.
“So on the peak lap, with the most grip, we had a terrible Sector 2, so that was not fantastic.
“But then, we managed to do another lap, which not many other people seem to be able to pull out, so I think the pace is good, just a bit unfortunate to be P3.”
Red Bull can fight in the sprint
Red Bull have been very strong with race pace this season while Ferrari have generally struggled due to tyre wear.
Verstappen, who leads the Formula 1 drivers’ championship by 15 points from Perez, is confident Red Bull can fight Leclerc in the sprint, which begins at 14:30 UK time.
“With this heat, and how the tyres are behaving, I think it’s not going to be a straightforward sprint,” added Verstappen.
“Some tracks you can just set off and it’s fine. Here, maybe a bit of tyre management comes into play, so all to fight for. I’m not worried, in the race we can fight.”