Jos Verstappen probably won't approach Sunday's opening A1 Grand Prix race at Sentul any differently to those in South Africa a fortnight ago, but will know just how much effort it will take to translate a mid-grid position into a podium finish after coming from 16th to win the last feature event in Durban.

The Formula One veteran will start the eighth sprint race of the season from 13th on the grid, after finding himself unable to capitalise on third and fourth places in free practice. Perhaps with the playing field levelled by the absence of rain - conditions in which the Dutchman traditionally excels - Verstappen set an aggregate time of 2min 36.000secs, but had to rely on his fourth and final effort, held in tricky mixed conditions, to claw his way up the order.

"If you take into account the fact that we were fourth this morning, this is disappointing for me," Verstappen said, "You start the qualifying on used tyres, and don't expect to much from those, but, when we put on new tyres for the second run, suddenly the balance and speed were gone completely.

"That was very hard because we don't know what caused it. You think that you have got grip, but you only have understeer. It does not turn in and slides sideways. We left the same tyres on the car for the third run, and made adjustments on the wings and springs to improve the car, but that didn't make any difference. In fact, we went even slower in the third run!

"Then, we went into the fourth run when it was already raining, and the track was moist. We did not change the car much but, when we you go seven-tenths quicker than on a dry track, there is a problem somewhere. I think that there was a huge difference between the different sets of tyres, and that influenced our grid position. Without that, I think we could have been in the top five...."

Team boss Jan Lammers pointed to the increased competitiveness within the A1 midfield, and admitted that tenths of a second were now making a big difference on grid positions.

"You can be in the top three or, suddenly, be ten places further back," he explained, "We are 13th now and that's not good, but this is a sign of how hugely competitive it is here. Luckily, we are good starters..."

 

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