Max Verstappen says he was surprised when he heard the final gap to Lewis Hamilton, which he felt meant that he had been taking unnecessary risks in qualifying at the Qatar Grand Prix.
Hamilton was on pole position by more than 0.4s after a big improvement on his final lap, with Verstappen only finding a small bit of time as he qualified second. Before being summoned to the stewards for allegedly failing to respect double-waved yellow flags exiting the final corner, Verstappen admitted he was taking risks trying to find small gains and didn’t expect such a big deficit to his title rival.
“It’s been a bit up and down,” Verstappen said. “I was happy in FP1, then not so happy in FP2 and FP3, then I was actually happy in quali again but just not quick enough. That sometimes happens. There’s a few corners where I would like to go faster — tried everything, just not a lot of extra pace coming.
“You think you do a better job but (it provides) not much more lap time, actually. The last few races, qualifying has been a bit more of a struggle for us so we (will) definitely try and understand and try to be better.
“I thought I had a really good lap and then I heard the difference in lap time and I was a bit, ‘Wow didn’t even need to risk it then if it was such a big gap.’ Nevertheless I had fun out there — qualifying has been cool. It’s a really beautiful track and a lot of fun to drive. It would have been more fun if we were faster but sometimes that happens. Still, being second is OK, but it is a big gap and also tomorrow when it is a gap it’s going to be tricky but we never give up.”
Aside from qualifying, Verstappen spoke about the rules of engagement between drivers after there were lengthy discussions in the driver briefing on Friday, as he feels it will always be a topic that is open for debate.
“Well, I think it’s always to try and align everyone in having the same process in a way you think. Everyone is different and everyone has their own way of racing, defending, overtaking, and it is very hard for the FIA to get everyone on the same line.
“Of course they decide but every driver has a different opinion. Yesterday it was all about sharing opinions and the FIA explaining their process of thought behind it. I think we came a long way, and it was a very long briefing. I think it was at the end pretty clear.”