As the hour-long session began with the opening chapter. Max then took P2 with a strong first flying lap of 1: 19.485 seconds. Lewis Hamilton beat that time, but the Mercedes driver's lap time was easily deleted due to track limits violations in turn one. With his next lap, the Mercedes driver fell to the bottom of the order, but quickly climbed back to the top of the timesheet.
Meanwhile, Max was dissatisfied with the results of his RB16B and complained about a lack of straight-line speed during his next race. He returned to the garage to make adjustments, and after spending time in the pits, he qualified for Q2 in P11.
Max used medium compound Pirellis in Q2 and struggled to keep up with the yellow-banded tires. Max was in fifth place after the first sprint, so the Bulls decided to send him out on soft tires in case the speed of those ahead of him unexpectedly changed in the final runs. After it became obvious that their opening medium-tire times were safe enough to guarantee Q3, the Bulls backed out of their laps in the final field.
At the start of Q3, Max was one of the last out of pit lane, and his first flying lap, at 1: 18.209, placed him on top of the timesheet. His time was easily deleted for going over the track limits in turn four, so his stay was short. Max was in P10 at the end of the first two sessions. With just one run remaining, Max had his work cut out for him, and despite pushing to the limit, a change in track conditions only allowed him to improve to P3, behind pole-sitter Bottas and second-place Hamilton.
Post-qualifying, Verstappen comments, "Third is of course not what we wanted but it's not too bad after I had a Q3 lap time deleted, which would actually have put us fastest even though I lost time with the snap at Turn 4. We struggled with the balance in Q1 and Q2 because of the track surface, and everyone is chasing grip, but we got to a decent level in Q3 so I don't think we are too far off. "
He continues, "It was really one of those sessions where you could end up in P1 or P3 out of the blue. You could do a lap which was pretty good and then put another set of tires on, and if you had just a little bit of a different out lap and tire preparation, with the lack of grip around here it makes a big difference and is hard to predict. "
To conclude, "I think we are still competitive and it will be different in the race tomorrow. Our long runs have been ok and although it's going to be hard to follow with the grip levels we will first focus on a clean start and then put the pressure on. "