Verstappen: Sprint qualifying conditions 'like driving on ice'

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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen says he had no edge in Friday’s Sprint qualifying in Shanghai due to the wet conditions that felt like he was “driving on ice”.

The Dutchman clocked in fourth at the end of the chaotic dry-to-wet session, never appearing to get to grips with his RB20 or with the tricky conditions in the final shootout, running wide on both of his SQ3 flyers on Pirelli's intermediate tyre.

However, Verstappen was confident of reversing his fortunes in Saturday’s 30-minute event if dry conditions prevail.

“It was incredibly slippery,” the Dutchman said. “I struggled a lot to get the temperature in the tyres, it was very difficult to keep the car on-track, and it never really switched on for me.

“It was just like driving on ice. That’s why I think it was quite deserved where we are in qualifying, because it’s not really working for me in the wet, even though I think the dry we look quite good.

“So of course I’m quite happy with that.”

The consensus among the teams in Shanghai was that the circuit’s bitumen treatment had significantly reduced grip levels in the wet.

Verstappen reckons that a strong result in the Sprint race will only be achievable with a strong launch off the grid and optimized tyre management.

“It’s not ideal to start on the inside here, there’s a lot lower grip, left to right with this like painted stuff on the tarmac,” explained the reigning world champion.

“We have to try and have the best start possible. Then of course it’s going to be quite a long stint on one set of tyres in the sprint, but that makes it quite interesting again.”

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