Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2021

Red Bull drivers weren’t on course for pole before Tsunoda incident – Wolff

2021 Mexico City Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff doubts the Red Bull drivers would have taken pole position from Valtteri Bottas if they hadn’t been forced to abort their final qualifying laps.

Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez backed out of their final efforts in Q3 after encountering Yuki Tsunoda at turn 11. An unhappy Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said his drivers had “been Tsunoda’d”.

However Wolff said neither Red Bull driver was on course to beat the time which earned Bottas pole position for Sunday’s Mexico City Grand Prix.

“I think at that stage, sector one and sector two, they were behind,” he said. “I think it was something like two tenths, or two and a half tenths.”

Red Bull’s defeat in qualifying came as a surprise after they led the final practice session at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez by six-tenths of a second.

“We were all surprised,” Wolff admitted. “It was pretty obvious that Max would take pole, and that it would be a fight between us and Checo for the other positions.

“Then we could see that qualifying really came towards us. On the medium [tyres] we started really to outperform them. And at no point in Q3 they had they had a lead, on none of the laps. Also I believe that in the last lap they were behind.

“That makes the sport for me so fascinating, that from one session to the other, performance can swing. We’ve seen it to our detriment in Austin and now it has happened to our advantage here in Mexico.”

However Max Verstappen believes he could have got close to Bottas’ time had he been able to finish his lap, as his first run in Q3 had not been quick.

“Before that, we were struggling somehow with just getting the tyres to work. On the mediums it wasn’t too bad but then on the softs going into Q3, it just didn’t click in the first run. It just was a terrible lap, just no grip.

“So I knew, of course, there was a lot more in it if we could find a better balance with the tyres. And it was a little bit better in the final run and it was definitely on for a good lap and challenge Valtteri’s time.”

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2021 Mexico City Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
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    12 comments on “Red Bull drivers weren’t on course for pole before Tsunoda incident – Wolff”

    1. That’s what I was seeing too. So kind of odd for Horner to blame tsunoda. From q2 it seemed the tables had turned.

      1. @dmw Always easier to blame someone or something else.

      2. When you look at how the lap was progressing there was a genuine chance both could have beaten bottas’ time. Anyway I think it might come of good, hard to do the box in stategy on this straight.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      7th November 2021, 0:44

      I don’t think Max would have matched Bottas but he could have maybe got Hamilton. As it stands though, I think 3rd is a better starting place than 2nd so not too much of a punishment. They’re lucky they ended up with Bottas on pole and both cars directly behind the Mercs.

      1. In the past few years, 2nd has overtaken 1st, 3rd tends to get boxed in.

        1. I concur. I’ve watched the race starts from the past couple of years and second seems to be a lot better than third.

          1. @j-l Seems to be that way, the only factor this year could be is the dusty part of the track for initial get go, but the ultra long straight means, even a poor start can be forgiven, given the straight line advantage of the Mercedes.

      2. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        7th November 2021, 13:50

        Look at the start at Turkey. Valtteri was quicker to react and cleared off leaving Max trailing.

        A similar start is obviously required.

    3. Maybe Strategy too.
      Long straight, slurp is good to take to the first place.
      If you’re in front, you can be slurped and passed.

    4. They got really scruffy in Q3.
      Felt like left a lot on the table.

      If they are as faster on medium tyres as they were on COTA, they still can win this.

    5. Red Bull just trying to throw someone under the bus.

    6. I think Wolff is wrong. Verstappen was more than 0.2s faster than his previous time in sector 1, with sector 2 and 3 the best RBR sectors. When he came up at the incident he was almost 0.3s faster than his previous time, so could have made up the 0.35s deficit to Bottas imho.

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