Max Verstappen says his emotions ranged from anger to “shaking with happiness” after securing second place for the Singapore Grand Prix with what he describes as his best qualifying lap in Formula 1.
Lewis Hamilton took a stunning pole position at the Marina Bay street circuit, but Verstappen’s own effort was equally impressive as he took second place, 0.3s clear of Sebastian Vettel. Verstappen complained of power unit issues during FP3, and says the turnaround to produce such a strong qualifying performance came as a big surprise.
“Totally unexpected,” Verstappen said. “From FP3 onwards, I was shaking with anger but now I’m just shaking from happiness. FP3 I had so many problems — I was going into false neutral, car was stopping on the track, while driving on my fast laps just bogging down and in qualifying it was exactly the same story so we had to detune the engine, so lost a little bit of time there, to try and make the driveability better, but it still didn’t work like it should.
“Going into Q3, I felt the car was working well, I didn’t have anything to complain about. When I saw second on the board, I was quite surprised with the problems I had. In my second lap, tried to push a bit more, two tenths up, and I arrived at Turns 16/17, and then when I had to short shift the engine just cut out, and I had to abort.
“If it was going to be enough for pole, I’m not so sure but at least it would’ve been closer than three tenths. I’m already surprised to be second with all the issues I had. The only thing I could say that it was a great qualifying, the best I have ever done. The car was working well, that definitely put us second today.”
Despite highlighting the problems he faced on Saturday, Verstappen is more confident those issues will not resurface in race trim due to the way the power unit is run differently.
“In the race, you have to turn down the power; it’s just when you go to the limit of the engine, we seem to struggle and somehow we didn’t. Yesterday in long runs, I didn’t have the problem. If it breaks, it breaks. You can’t change it. So we’ll find out tomorrow.”