Engine glitch 'ruined' qualifying, says Verstappen

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing in the post qualifying FIA Press Conference.
© XPB 

Max Verstappen escaped disaster in qualifying when the Red Bull pit crew managed to fix an electronic misfire on his power unit at the start of the second round of qualifying for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola

The issue meant that he had to abandon his first flying lap in Q2, and faced lining up for Sunday's race from 15th on the grid.

Instead he was able to get back out on track and set a time good enough to get him through to the final pole shoot-out round. He ended the session in third place, but was disappointed to be half a second slower than the the two Mercedes drivers

“It wasn’t really a great qualifying because of [the engine issue]," he told Sky Sports F1's Johnny Herbert after the end of the session. "I think after Q2 we just lost our way a little bit.

"I only did two laps in Q1, and then you want to go out, get that run in in Q2, but then with the trouble it was a bit tricky," he said, "It basically ruined a bit my qualifying.

“I don’t know exactly what it was,” he told the media when asked exactly what the problem had been. “We’ll have a more detailed look at what exactly what went wrong with my engineers.

"It didn't make sense to go through qualifying discussing what broke.

“I had power then not. Then it kicked in again and then not," he recalled. “They told me to keep going and I was like, ‘Guys, I’m losing quite a bit of lap time here on the straights’. So I aborted because it didn’t make sense to continue.

Max Verstappen (NLD), Red Bull Racing

“Of course the bodywork had to come off, and I think the mechanics did a very good job to fix the car," he pointed out. "Just focus on the job. It’s not so lovely, but luckily we’re still here.”

Despite the problems in Q2, Verstappen was just able to set a sufficient time on a set of mediums, meaning that this will be the compound he starts tomorrow's race on. Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton made the same selection.

"You have to go out on the mediums and basically nail that lap," he explained. “We just managed to go through on that, but then the reference was a bit off.

"It was just very tricky. I never really found that rhythm that you normally get in qualifying where you put a new tyre set on and I know where to find my lap time. I was just learning still to go faster.

"The first lap in Q3, the tyres were a bit cold because I was in the middle of a train," he continued. "I never really got into a nice rhythm where you know I’ve got a little bit of time here where I can push a little bit harder.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing in qualifying parc ferme.

"It was a bit messy," he sighed. “Even in Q3 on the last lap I think we could have done quite a bit better here if we just had a smoother qualifying.

“So a bit of a shame. But still P3, so back in my seat," he summarised. "At the end of the day P3 isn't bad, but I personally expected to be a little bit closer [to Mercedes] to be able to fight them a little bit more.

“The long run was alright so hopefully we will be a bit similar tomorrow," he added. “Let’s hope that top-speed wise we will be in a good position tomorrow."

Before today's running Verstappen had expressed doubts about whether the venerable Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit was up tot he job of hosting a modern Grand Prix after 14 years off the calendar.

But it seems that the Dutch driver is now quite a convert and thoroughly looking forward to tomorrow's race. “The track is really cool,” he said. “It’s really enjoyable to drive.

"I initially thought it was going to be a bit too narrow for these cars but it’s fin," he confirmed. "I really enjoy it, so I hope that tomorrow we can also have a really cool race here.

"I don’t think it will be easy to pass anyway, but we’ll see what we can do.”

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