Max Verstappen believes Yuki Tsunoda and Sergio Perez going off track ahead of him ruined his chance of taking pole position at the Mexico City Grand Prix.
Tsunoda was on a slow lap after giving teammate Pierre Gasly a tow at the end of Q3, and went off track at Turn 10 to allow Perez and Verstappen behind to pass him unimpeded. However, Perez appeared to be affected by the AlphaTauri and also went off, with Verstappen saying that cost him the chance of overhauling Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.
“It seemed like through qualifying the balance went away a little bit but actually on the last lap I was on for a good lap, but then I don’t know what happened in front of me,” Verstappen said. “There was two guys going off so I thought there was going to be a yellow flag, so I backed out and then the lap is, of course, destroyed.
“But even with that and not having a great balance, I think we could have still gone for that pole lap. Third is not amazing, but I think it is still better than starting second.”
Later asked if Tsunoda had cost him pole — a claim made by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner — Verstappen simply felt he had a good chance of improving on his previous lap time.
“That’s always an ‘if’, right? But before that we were just struggling to get the tires to work,” said Verstappen. “On the mediums it wasn’t too bad but then on the softs going into Q3 it just didn’t click on the first run. It just was a terrible lap, just no grip. So I knew there was a lot more in it if we could find a better balance with the tires 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.
“I don’t know what happened in front of me, but it must have been Yuki holding up first Checo and then both of them had to go wide. Then, because you arrive so quick it’s difficult to pinpoint what’s happening and I just saw a lot of dust so thought a car had crashed. Now with the yellow flag rules, I’ve been caught here before in Mexico with it, so I backed out of it and then no yellow flag came, so I continued pushing. But of course then it’s already like two and a half tenths gone so it was basically finished.
“I’ll have a look at what happened there exactly but of course it was very unfortunate and not a great place to be after being so competitive the whole weekend. But it’s also a long run to Turn 1, starting third, on the cleaner side, there’s been a lot of dust so let’s see. It’s a long race.”
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) November 6, 2021
Verstappen says he is not surprised by Mercedes’ pace after Hamilton was shocked by the front row lockout, saying Red Bull’s own failings led to the result.
“No, I just think we were really slow and had terrible grip in Q3.” Verstappen said. “I think my last lap, we recovered it a little bit by getting the tires into a little bit of a better window, but we were still not what we would have liked and how the car was behaving in all the practice sessions. So that was a bit of a mystery. But then tomorrow we maybe race on different tires anyway so I expect the balance to be good again.
“We just had a terrible qualifying. So nothing surprising.”