Max Verstappen admits the pace Mercedes was able to show in the Sprint is “a little bit worrying” ahead of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
The world champion started on medium tires from second on the grid and duly overtook pole-sitter Kevin Magnussen within the opening four laps, but was unable to break away at the front of the field. Despite being on softs that would usually degrade more quickly than the medium, George Russell, Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton all fought their way past Verstappen, who suffered front wing damage after contact with the Ferrari and limped home fourth.
“I don’t know (why it went wrong). I just was degging way too hard,” Verstappen said. “Somehow, the mediums — they didn’t last at all, and we had no pace, but even on the soft I think we wouldn’t have had the pace that Mercedes had, so that’s a little bit worrying for tomorrow.
“We definitely will, of course, analyze everything but normally there’s not so much you can do to make it better. It was not the front end; it was just everything — the front, the rear…it was dropping off a lot.”
Verstappen had no issue with the contact from Sainz that left him with a damaged front wing — “It was just racing; we barely touched” — and believes he would have slipped behind Hamilton regardless due to his pace.
“It was just degging. I had no grip from the tires. I was just eating the tires alive, so I don’t know why it was like that, but then with the contact my front wing was a bit damaged. But even with a complete front wing I would have finished fourth.
“It’s a bit difficult to take them apart from each other; it goes hand in hand. So if the tires are degging a lot, the car doesn’t feel good.”