Monday, May 27, 2024

‘Potential’ in RB19 gave Verstappen Chance to ‘Push it to the Limit’ in Q3

Max Verstappen continued his dominant form this weekend during Qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix, with the Dutchman taking pole position.

The Oracle Red Bull Racing driver had topped each of the three free practice sessions on Friday and Saturday morning, with his RB19 seemingly set up well for the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Verstappen’s first flying lap in Q3 was over a second faster than anyone else, and although others closed up the gap across their second runs, he had the luxury of being able to back out of his final attempt knowing pole position was his.

“The weekend has been enjoyable so far,” said Verstappen. “The car has been really performing well but of course we always try to find improvements here and there.

“Qualifying started off tricky, you needed to be on the track at the right time, not making any mistakes. Going into Q3 I knew there was good potential left in the car so I could finally push it to the limit.

“The first run was really quick, then of course we went out again for the second run, that would have been even better, but I was told to abort the lap to save the tyres.”

Verstappen says tyre conservation is going to be key on Sunday, with multiple pit stops likely across the race.  However, he says he will go into the final sector with a smile as Formula 1 cars come alive in that sector.

“Looking ahead to tomorrow, we’ll need to watch out for the tyre wear but going into that last corner brings a smile to my face because that’s where an F1 car really comes to life,” he added.

“I just couldn’t get the full potential out of the car” – Sergio Pérez

Whereas Verstappen was driving a car that appeared to be on rails, it was far trickier on the other side of the Red Bull garage for Sergio Pérez, and the Mexican found himself surprisingly eliminated from Qualifying at the second stage.

Pérez only just made it through Q1, his best time of that session good enough for only fifteenth, and a mistake at turn five that saw him go through the gravel trap late in Q2 all but ended his chances of advancing into the top ten shootout.

Despite his lowly grid spot, Pérez still feels he has potential to move forward on Sunday and score points and maybe even a podium finish.

“It hasn’t been a straightforward weekend, the conditions were quite tricky and I wasn’t that comfortable in qualifying,” said Pérez.  “I’ve been trying to modify my driving style quite a bit this weekend and as soon as we had some variable conditions it put us on the back foot and I just couldn’t get the full potential out of the car.

“Going into turn 5, the track was a little bit damp and I just lost the rear and went into the gravel, so we ended up losing a bit of time which was very costly for us. That incident meant that the tyres were too hot on my final lap and it was hard to come back from.

“However, I think anything is possible tomorrow and we will try everything we can to recover the position and progress through the field. I am looking forward to the race and I think we should be able to get some good points and hopefully get on the podium.”

Sergio Pérez was a surprise elimination from Q2 in Spain – Credit: Adam Pretty/Getty Images