Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2021

Verstappen mystified by “weird feeling” as strong practice pace disappears in qualifying

2021 British Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen says his surprising loss of pace between practice and qualifying at Silverstone was not connected to any changes on his car.

The Red Bull driver had finished the only practice session before qualifying almost eight-tenths of a second ahead of Hamilton.

But his rival gained the upper hand in today’s qualifying session and beat Verstappen to pole position for Saturday’s sprint qualifying race by less than a tenth of a second.

Verstappen, who was heard complaining on his radio about understeer, was at a loss to explain where his advantage had gone. “We just need to look at ourselves because I think the car itself was actually handling quite well, but with just a lot of understeer.”

Under this weekend’s sprint qualifying rules, parc ferme conditions are imposed from the beginning of qualifying on Friday afternoon. Red Bull made some set-up changes to Verstappen’s car between the two session, but he doesn’t believe that was related to his loss of pace.

“I couldn’t really attack any corners,” he explained. “[I was] just waiting for the front to grip up.

“It was a bit of a weird feeling to be honest, to drive, because I don’t think it was set up or front wing related.

“It is what it is. I mean, we are still quite close. So it’s all right.”

Verstappen still has a chance to claim the official pole position for the grand prix in Saturday’s sprint qualifying race.

He admitted the format feels strange compared to a normal race weekend. “You do qualifying, you go flat out and [then] actually, it doesn’t really mean anything in terms of a pole position feeling.

“We’ll see tomorrow. I think we have a strong race car, we just need to fix a bit the issues we had in qualifying. I’m quite confident still that we can have a strong race.”

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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13 comments on “Verstappen mystified by “weird feeling” as strong practice pace disappears in qualifying”

  1. Perhaps it’s the tyres, or perhaps he’s not in form this weekend.

    1. Could just be the cooling tarmac with the session being late in the day, that often changes balance between sessions at other tracks as well.

      1. @bascb Surely. We saw how quickly the track ramped up when the temperatures dropped, and how some cars made huge gains. Red Bull, who were already in the zone and wary to change anything, lost out, although they should probably have foreseen the upcoming change.

  2. I’ve heard that if all the fans at a grand stand blow in unison it can make their driver go= faster. They did it for him in Austria now it is the turn of the British drivers.=

    1. LOL. Home advantage that is…

  3. RandomMallard (@)
    16th July 2021, 20:37

    “I mean this is all clearly a conspiracy by the FIA and Liberty so that Verstappen has something to fight for tomorrow and the Sprint not-race is actually interesting so they can justify keeping them and try and attract sponsorship from Raid Shadow Legends. And Bill Gates is microchipping the drivers to assess their reaction times and is then selling the data to Mark Zuckerberg so he can create an army of lizards to take over the world.”

    Some F1 fan (probably)

    Disclaimer: I do not believe or endorelse any of what I just said. It was a joke…

    1. Naaa, that’s not what I was thinking at all.

      1. RandomMallard (@)
        16th July 2021, 21:40

        Just wanted to be safe with the disclaimer… Would help if I could spell “endorse” though

        1. Poe’s law in unfallible

          1. I looked that up and I’m not kidding. All the proof you need is that if one team swaps tires with another, then the FIA breaks down and goes underground to figure out how to explain it. In the meantime, you better not switch tires. Even though they are all the same.

      2. No, it’s the tires. As IVAYLO said. Bernie’s not running the show anymore, but his legend lives on.

  4. It was really odd that Max only improved by 0.5 from his first lap in Q1 to his final one in Q3. Maybe RB struggled with the cooling track temperatures or they simply set up the car more for the race/sacrificed a little bit of single-lap-pace to have better tire life in the race on Sunday.
    I noticed Verstappen was extremely slow on the straights and through the full throttle highspeed corners (T1 & 2, 9-11), especially on his final run in Q3. RB probably put on more downforce, which costs time in qualifying, but should come in handy once the tires start to lose performance during a longer stint.

  5. RB sandbagging ;-)

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