Verstappen mystified as tyre woes leave him fourth on grid but sees “potential” for race

2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen says he does not understand why a brand new set of soft tyres in Q3 did not offer the level of grip he expected in qualifying.

The world champion put on a new set of soft tyres for his first run in the final section of qualifying. However his first flying lap was over eight tenths of a second slower than Carlos Sainz Jnr’s provisional pole time and almost seven tenths off team mate Sergio Perez.

After his first hot lap of the session, Verstappen complained about an overall lack of tyre grip to his race engineer, Gianpiero Lambiase, over team radio.

Verstappen Mate, what the fuck? I have zero grip on this shit tyre.
Lambiase OK, box this lap please Max. Box this lap.
Lambiase Let me know if you would like a front flap adjustment, please Max.
Verstappen No, I just need different tyres. What the hell?
Lambiase Okay Max, so box – it will be a live pit stop. Just let me know if you need a front wing adjustment.
Verstappen It’s fine mate.
Lambiase Okay.
Verstappen This is shocking, the grip I had.
Lambiase Copy that.

Eventually, Verstappen’s second effort saw him greatly improve his time, but he was only able to secure fourth on the grid, a quarter of a second behind his team mate’s pole time.

Lambiase Okay, that is P4. Checo P1 on a 28.2, Leclerc 28.2, Sainz and yourself on a 28.4.
Verstappen Yeah. Well, it’s so weird what happened in Q3, but we’ll see tomorrow.
Lambiase Yep. Hard luck mate. Nice job.
Horner Good effort, Max. I’m sure we can have a good race from there tomorrow. Well done.
Verstappen Yeah. Well done with Checo.

Verstappen described his lack of pace during his first run in Q3 as ‘something very weird’.

“Q1 and Q2 was very good,” he said. “Even after that long red flag, I went out on that old set and was looking really good. So I was very comfortable going into Q3.

“But I put that first tyre set on and I had no grip – it felt like I was driving on a different tyre. Every corner I was just losing one or two tenths while doing the same preparation and everything. It felt like it was actually just getting slower. So that’s something which is very weird.

The Red Bull driver questioned if the long delay to the session caused by Mick Schumacher’s accident had affected the track conditions once qualifying resumed. “Everything cools down,” he said. “Ambient, track [temperature], so there’s a big track progression.”

Despite being unable to get the best out of qualifying, Verstappen says Perez’s pole shows that Red Bull have “potential” for the race.

“It’s not the end of the world because we see the potential in the car with Checo in first,” he said. “So I’m happy for him and he deserves it.

“I think we look good, we have good top speed as well, and I hope, of course, we can use that.”

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2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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11 comments on “Verstappen mystified as tyre woes leave him fourth on grid but sees “potential” for race”

  1. Still waiting for the article where Max reflects on the release of the AD report, saying its a good thing.

    Oh but wait, this site is worse than RT-tv, so who am I kidding…..

    1. There’s this report from the day before the report, did MV say anything afterwards that I missed?

      1. * before the release

  2. Sainz also said he had more grip on used tyres and that sounds strange. Shouldn’t be a problem with proper tyres, but it’s Pirelli.

  3. BLS (@brightlampshade)
    27th March 2022, 14:39

    You do get iffy tyres sometimes but I wonder if there was a subconscious holding back around this track from some of the guys. A few mentioned the tyres not reacting as expected but usually it’s bad luck if just one driver gets one bad set all weekend, not a couple finding it all in the same session.

  4. Wondering when FIA is finally going to deal with tyres being such a dominant factor in this sport. It is already nearly impossible to rate the athletes since the machinery does the majority of the work. Really no need for tyres to add to that. I get you want some degradation to get team strategy into the mix but these Pirelli’s have not been living up to what we need for quite some time now. Personally I would like tyres to be neutral/equal to all, like helmets or gloves. No deciding factor whatsoever. Only thing worse to the current situation was having multiple suppliers. That just ruled out several teams for the constructor championship right from the get go since one tyre was significantly better than the other. Like some football teams not having shoes while others do.

    1. Why are you treating it as a problem that the FIA hasn’t noticed? Pirelli was deliberately commissioned to manufacture high-degrading tyres to “spice up the show”. Michelin’s proposal last time around was to offer high-performance, highly durable/reliable tyres, but the FIA didn’t want to go down that route. I think it is a real shame, because high-degrading tyres makes the sport artificial, it goes the opposite way to efficiency, and does nothing to improve tyre technology. Let alone racing. The driver is overly dependent on getting the tyres to work properly, and in my opinion that shifted the sport towards endurance, which is not what F1 is about. There’s no point to have the current tyres, when better ones exist.

  5. MV sure seems to be a potty mouth. Disappointing really, he’s been given the No 1 for the year, but he keeps talking No. 2. :)

    1. @biker56 Yup he should definetly speak like Captian Edmund Blackadder, eloquent disparaging.

      ” Mr.Gianpiero, I have as much grip in these tyres as much as Helmut has grip to reality.”

  6. Such a cry-baby… The fastest arrogant human alive

    1. I’ve read the ‘arrogant’ attribute more than once. I’m not saying he seems the most likeable character in the paddock, but I don’t see arrogance. A higher than average self confidence (all drivers (should) have that though), sure, blunt, direct, abrasive maybe.. Genuine question: where/how is he arrogant?

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