Max Verstappen finished qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix in third place, behind the two Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton – his rival for the 2021 Formula 1 Drivers’ title – and Valtteri Bottas. The 10-place penalty imposed on the 7-time world champion for having unmarked the fourth heat engine of his season this weekend, will lead Max to start in second position, alongside Bottas.
The situation created at Istanbul Park should appeal to the Dutchman, who will have to deal with a Bottas who has never been at ease in the melee in the race, while Hamilton will be called to recover from 11th position having a single-seater in front of him. Alpine, McLaren and AlphaTauri who make top speed their strong point.
And yet, despite the conditions all seem to work in his favor, Verstappen admitted that it will be difficult to win in the race that will start at 14:00 Italian today. Red Bull Racing arrived in Turkey having prepared the set-up for the conditions seen on this track 12 months ago, which is a set up for a slimy asphalt with little grip.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, recovers after a spin
Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images
Since Friday the conditions have been different, making the simulation work done in Milton Keynes practically useless and thus putting both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez in serious difficulty. Things then improved on Saturday. The Red Bull engineers have revised the set-up and Verstappen managed to patch the problems with a good lap in Q3. But this, in his opinion, shouldn’t lead him to fight for victory.
“We don’t have enough speed to win today. But obviously we will try to follow Bottas and see what we can do, but also to see what happens in the race, in general.”
“Between Friday and Saturday we made some good improvements compared to free practice, where we struggled a bit too much to understand how to be fast on this track, in these conditions.”
“The team worked to understand what the problems were and, in part, we solved them. In qualifying we went better, but everything is not perfect yet. They were quite happy with the result at the end of the last lap in Q3. Not I can be dissatisfied “.
A start immediately uphill
The 24-year-old also analyzed another important – perhaps fundamental – aspect of today’s race: the start. His second position will lead him to start the Turkish Grand Prix on the dirty side of the starting grid, while Bottas and Charles Leclerc behind him will be on the clean side.
Not good news for Max, who will have to be good at warming up the tires in the formation lap – remember, the RB16B is the best car in this respect – but he will also have to try to skate as little as possible to limit the damage and maintain at least the its location.
“I don’t think it’s a great place to start, on the inside. Because there’s no grip outside the line. We’ll see how it goes,” concluded the Red Bull driver.