Monday, June 24, 2024

Max Verstappen: “We have not performed the way we should be performing all weekend”

Max Verstappen was forced to settle for second on the grid for the Hungarian Grand Prix on Saturday, with the Oracle Red Bull Racing driver admitting he was unable to get a set-up that worked well across the Qualifying hour at the Hungaroring.

Verstappen, who is looking for a seventh consecutive victory this weekend and his ninth of a remarkable 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season, was odds on favourite to take top spot in Qualifying, but he was denied by 0.003 seconds by Lewis Hamilton.

And it was balance issues that prevented him from taking pole position, with his second lap in Q3 slower than his first effort, meaning Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team’s Hamilton was able to jump ahead of him when it mattered.

“We have not performed the way we should be performing all weekend, it has been really difficult to get the most out of the car,” said Verstappen.  “I was struggling with putting the balance together, front to rear.

“We tried a lot of different things in terms of set-up but it didn’t really work. When you are struggling in qualifying you can only try one or two things and then when you really push you fall out of the window again.

“My second lap in Q3 I tried to push a bit more and the car wasn’t there.”

Verstappen felt the upgrades that Red Bull brought to Hungary appeared to be working, and he believes the long run pace of the RB19 will be better, and he is ready for the battle to secure yet another race win on Sunday.

“I think our upgrades worked but that didn’t really show,” he added.  “The balance I had in qualifying won’t necessarily be a bad thing for tomorrow.

“Everything in the race is a lot calmer and more stable, whereas in qualifying you really push it to the limit on the balance and can feel more issues. Our long run looks competitive so that is positive.

“It is still going to be tough to get in front but if we are better on tyres then I predict a good race. Nothing is lost, we have a good race car and it will be a good battle with them tomorrow.”

“I had a poor sector one on the last lap which set us back” – Sergio Pérez

Team-mate Sergio Pérez broke into the top ten for the first time since the Miami Grand Prix on Saturday, but the Mexican could only manage ninth on the grid.

Pérez had failed to advance in any of the previous five Qualifying into Q3, but he comfortably did so at the Hungaroring.  However, with the field being extremely close, the fact he was four tenths of a second back of Verstappen in Q3, it was the difference between a spot on the front row and the fifth row.

“Today was such a tight battle that was dominated by the compounds and the new tyre format,” said Pérez.  “You don’t get many learnings on the tyres so we don’t have too much information from them for this weekend.

“In Q3, I had a poor sector one on the last lap which set us back, however, we have had a solid day and are focusing all our efforts on tomorrow.”

The Mexican believes he has the car underneath him to move forward and fight for the podium places, but he knows it will be difficult starting from ninth.

“I believe we can be competitive and aim to finish on the podium as we have a good race car and a strong race pace,” he added.  

“The track here is harder to overtake on but I am confident we will have a good performance: everything is to play for on race day.”

Sergio Pérez will start ninth in Hungary – Credit: Dan Mullan/Getty Images