Max Verstappen believes he could have joined Charles Leclerc on the front row before the late red flag in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix.
Leclerc was in a class of his own as qualifying reached Q3, setting an impressive benchmark on his first run to be nearly a quarter of a second faster than anyone else and then being set to improve to the tune of 0.4s on his final attempt. Leclerc didn’t get to finish that lap when Sergio Perez crashed at Portier, and Verstappen was similarly hampered as a better run was halted when he was trying to improve on fourth on the grid.
“So far it has been a bit tricky for me the whole weekend and of course in qualifying, in Q3 you want to go all-out,” Verstappen said. “It was getting a bit better. I do think that last run, I opted to do a bit of a different strategy to the cars around me, and it was actually quite good — I was on a good lap until I got to that corner and there was a bit of a traffic jam.
“It’s very unfortunate — I think we could have done better than fourth. Not pole, Charles was too strong today, but it would have been nice to be second. But that’s Monaco — you do one lap in Q3 and there’s always a risk of a red flag when everyone is trying to risk it all.”
Perez will start ahead of Verstappen in third place as long as his car is not too badly damaged after the crash that brought a premature end to qualifying, with the Mexican apologizing for ruining everyone else’s final attempts.
“I think there was a technical issue because the G I got was something like 20 but it’s quite a low-speed section and luckily there is Tecpro there,” Perez said. “It’s just a shame what happened because I think we had more pace than that but we just couldn’t challenge.
“The strategy with the tires, especially that final set, it wasn’t up to temperature and it was just too peaky. I nearly lost it already into Turn 1 and in hindsight we didn’t get it right today.
“Basically I was quite close to my time trying to make it up. Turn 8 has been a difficult one for me throughout the qualifying session so I was trying to anticipate and get quite early on throttle, I could feel that the rear tire was not gripping up and I was playing with it a bit until I lost it. I was actually surprised that Carlos (Sainz) hit me at the time and it’s just a shame what happened. I feel sorry for Carlos and the rest of the guys but this is Monaco.”
Perez admits the car did not look good when he inspected it after his crash, with the initial impact on the rear added to when Sainz spun into his right-front corner.
“Certainly it looked bad from the rear and then what made it worse was the hit we got from Carlos, so we have got quite a bit of damage. We’ll see — I think it should be all right for tomorrow.”