Max Verstappen says it was likely he would skip Q2 during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix even before he was ruled out by power issues regardless.
The Dutchman knew he was going to serve a ten-place grid penalty for his 'home' race after Toro Rosso was forced to change his Renault power unit after Friday practice.
With this in mind, Verstappen says the plan was to avoid qualifying for Q3 so as to save a tyre for the race and since qualifying 11th would have demoted him to the back anyway, not setting a time was thus a plan.
In the end, problems with power would consign Verstappen to the pit lane in qualifying anyway, leaving him 15th, which will become 18th (ahead of the also penalised McLarens) when he lines up on the grid.
“It wasn't the best of starts to my qualifying session, as I had a power issue in Q1 which didn't let me focus on my lap, even though I managed to get through to Q2. But, to say the truth, we planned a qualifying session like this, stopping in Q2, as there was no point in trying to fight for Q3 because of my 10-place grid penalty for tomorrow's race.
Despite the compromised starting position, Verstappen is still harbouring hopes of challenging for a top ten finish.
“By doing this we've also saved some tyres and hopefully we can fight for points… I know it's not going to be easy, but to be racing in front of my home crowd will surely give me that extra boost I need. I'm confident and looking forward to the race.
“In this morning's final practice session I could see that our long-run pace was quite good, so I'm hoping tomorrow will be the same. It's not being the easiest of race weekends, but the car feels good so I'm happy about that and at this track anything is possible. There will definitely be some hard fights, but we will aim to finish in the points, that would be a really good result for us here in Spa.”