Toro Rosso's Max Verstappen has blamed a “weird” handling problem for failing to qualify higher than ninth for the Chinese Grand Prix.
Verstappen had been sixth overall on Friday, but was slowest of those that ran in the top-ten shoot-out, his best lap in Q3 a 1min 37.194secs, which left him 0.313secs off team-mate Carlos Sainz and 0.329secs slower than Sergio Perez's Force India.
“It could've been quite a bit better but something happened when I went out in qualifying and the car was pulling to the left so it was a bit of a weird feeling – a lot of oversteer on right-hand corners and understeer on the left-hand so we need to check what went wrong there. But I mean we are Q3 so that's good,” Verstappen said.
Pushed on if he was unhappy with what happened in qualifying, the Dutchman added: “The Q3 lap wasn't good but if you have these kind of issues it's tricky to get a clean lap so for me that was the main problem that we need to check for tomorrow because it's a big thing. You want to go straight on the straight!”
Verstappen also confirmed that he didn't have the issue this morning in final practice and that the team is still investigating what caused it.
“I don't know what happened but straight out of the box in quali I got this and I also reported on the radio but as you know you can't do anything in qualifying so you just have to try and live with it, which is not good,” he continued.
“Sometimes it can be a tyre or something but it did it on every set which is quite unusual. We need to strip the car and see what went wrong there. We need to check if the weight's off – from left to right. But in the end both cars are in Q3 so that's good.”
Meanwhile, looking to race day, Verstappen believes they will be able to fight with Force India and Williams, although not Red Bull, Ferrari and of course Mercedes.
“Hopefully tomorrow in the race they [Force India] will have a bit of drop off like in Bahrain but I mean we are there – it's not like they are miles away so definitely we can fight,” he confirmed.
“[But] first we need to sort out the car because this is not a problem you want to have. Because then also if you have oversteer two right hands corners and understeer in the left you don't know what to do with the flaps and you take off because you have this oversteer and at one point it's not working because you take potential from the front of the car.”