F1| Sao Paulo GP | “Not a big shock” for Verstappen to see Mercedes ahead after Hamilton takes new ICE
An un-catchable Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheet at the end of Q3, leaving Max Verstappen behind for over four tenths of a second. P3 for Bottas, who will be chased down by Sergio Perez who starts in 4th.
Max Verstappen will be starting tomorrow’s Sprint race from P2, after closing qualifying with a 0.438s gap from a flying Lewis Hamilton. The Brit topped all three sessions after fitting yet another new ICE, for which he will have to pay a five-place grid penalty on Sunday’s Grand Prix.
“I’m happy to be second, that’s a good position to start from in tomorrow’s Sprint. I always want to be closer but sometimes you have to be realistic and there was not much more in it,” commented Verstappen at the end of the session.
“It looked like it was a bit more tricky for us but I’m still happy of course to be in second.”
The pace of the silver arrows, however, comes as no surprise to Max given the engine change and the layout of the Interlagos circuit.
“Mercedes have taken a new engine so naturally they have more power this weekend, so for me it’s not a big shock that they are ahead,” he explained.
“We know, of course, the first weekend they can definitely put a bit more power in it and around here that can make quite a bit of a difference with such [few] corners.”
“There are not many points to gain tomorrow in the sprint race, so I hope we have a good start and we’ll see what happens from there. Of course, the most important race is on Sunday and I think it’s going to be a lot warmer which will change the behaviour of the car as well, so we’ll see.”
P2 ➕ P4 on Friday 👏 Our #BrazilGP weekend is up and running 👊 pic.twitter.com/UtbMOsZhCT— Red Bull Racing Honda (@redbullracing) November 12, 2021
As for his teammate, Sergio Perez, he is starting behind Valtteri Bottas in P4, after closing Q3 in 1:08.483s.
“It was a bit tricky today, especially in Q1 having to use two sets of tyres, so we started on the wrong foot in qualifying, but we were progressing well and gaining into Q3,” said Perez.
“Then I think the track cooled down a bit and we didn’t read the conditions as well as we could have. We got it together for our final lap and we only lacked half a tenth or so to be further ahead.”
Nonetheless he believes Red Bull has good pace and sounds hopeful for the Sprint.
“I think Mercedes’ new engine seems to be working pretty well, Lewis was untouchable today, but we will see tomorrow. Hopefully tomorrow we can have a good sprint race because the car has shown some good pace and I think it should be looking good.”