Max Verstappen has stated that overheating tyres was one of the reasons why he was unable to get past Valtteri Bottas in today’s Sprint Qualifying.
Verstappen’s Saturday started badly after he was fined €50,000s for touching Lewis Hamilton’s car in Parc Ferme, after the culmination of yesterday’s Qualifying session.
But Verstappen was handed a lifeline after Hamilton was disqualified from Qualifying after the scrutineers concluded that the rear wing on his car had failed a routine test relating to the DRS system, with Hamilton sent to the back of the grid as a result of the stewards’ decision.
The Dutchman, however, was unable to convert pole position into Sprint Qualifying victory, as Bottas got the better launch off the line, with Verstappen falling to third by the conclusion of Lap 1, after losing second to Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who overtook his former Toro Rosso teammate into the Descida do Lago.
Verstappen breezed past the Spaniard three laps later into the Senna S, and with Bottas’s soft tyres looking set to degrade during the latter stages of the race, the Dutchman closed the gap on his fresher mediums.
Yet, he was unable to get past the Mercedes, as Bottas clung on to win his second F1 Sprint of the year and with it secure pole position for tomorrow’s race ahead of Verstappen and Sainz with Sergio Perez a distant fourth.
At the end of the race, Verstappen explained why he was stuck behind Bottas for the final 20 laps of the race.
“We started on the harder compound, and as soon as I saw Valtteri was on the softs, I knew it would be quite tricky to keep position, especially in these colder track temperatures. After the first lap, we had good pace but it’s hard to overtake here and the tyres overheat a lot so there’s not much you can do so I ended up sitting behind.”
Nevertheless, Verstappen remains bullish for tomorrow’s Grand Prix. The current championship leader is hopeful that warmer weather conditions will suit the Red Bull better.
“At the end of the day I always try to do the best I can and it was good to score a few points today. Tomorrow is the important day and it will be different when we have more options with pit strategies. Let’s see what happens tomorrow, it’s going to be quite a bit warmer so hopefully that will be better for us but it’s difficult to say at the moment.”