Max Verstappen was surprised to be so competitive in qualifying at the Miami Grand Prix despite a final-lap mistake costing him a chance of pole position.
The defending champion was on provisional pole from his first runs in Q3; just 0.08s covered himself, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. The two Ferrari drivers jumped ahead of Verstappen after he ran wide in the first sector on his final attempt, but that didn’t dampen the Dutchman’s optimism after qualifying.
“Overall I am pretty pleased with qualifying,” Verstappen said. “Literally, I did four or five laps yesterday so today I was still trying to learn the track and trying to find a decent balance in the car. To be that competitive in qualifying, I was a bit surprised.
“This is not an easy track to learn. Of course you want to be on pole, but…I think we did a really good job. We have to start making the weekends a little less difficult. We have a good chance tomorrow. We have a bit of speed. The car is handling quite well. I’m looking forward to that.”
Despite the way qualifying panned out, Verstappen is still rueing the issues Red Bull had on Friday that left him on the back foot.
“I’ve only done four or five laps yesterday and you cannot afford that on a new track like this, and a street circuit in general, because it’s very critical to just do laps and get in a rhythm.
“On a normal track it is quite easy to get into a rhythm. On a street circuit it’s a lot more difficult and we basically failed on that side. Of course, in general, we are experienced enough to catch up on a lot of it, but to really fight, especially against a strong team like (Ferrari), you cannot afford it. We still got close, but I think we could have done a much better job today if we had a cleaner Friday.”
On the error that cost him a shot at pole, Verstappen believes he pushed a bit too hard as a result of the lack of running he’d done in practice.
“A bit of a weird moment to lose the car but again it’s just not really knowing the limits, I guess, and just trying a bit more, and then it snapped suddenly in Turn 5. I tried to keep it on the road but it didn’t really work, so I aborted. I tried to stay out of the way of the cars behind me, but [it was] a bit odd, the way it snapped. These things can happen.”