The Dutchman was unable to set a representative lap at the end of the session at the Hungaroring after a power unit issue halted his progress.

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With Verstappen out of the picture, Ferrari were still unable to capitalise as George Russell claimed a shock pole position ahead of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc. 

Verstappen has a 63-point lead over Leclerc with one race before the summer break, thus the Red Bull driver could afford a lacklustre result or two. 

“I was surprised to see it,” Verstappen said of Russell’s maiden pole. “They were close but I didn’t expect them to make that jump in Q3, but it was nice for me as well.

“Well, they need to me a favour tomorrow. That’s more important.”

After a tricky Friday where Ferrari dominated the timesheets, Verstappen was surprised by the performance of the RB18 in Hungary.

Explaining the power unit issue, Verstappen said: “I just had no power exiting the pit lane on that final run. The engine was running but there was no release, and that, of course, is painful.

“I was definitely surprised. All the guys and girls here and back at the factory analysed a lot last night because we were not happy at all. But we made some really positive changes and the car was a lot better to drive for me. 

“We looked very competitive, in Q2 and even on a used tyre set we were always there and very quick. I was looking forward to Q3 and then the first lap didn’t go to plan, but then I knew the pace of the car was there. Unfortunately, we couldn’t show.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner thinks Verstappen would have been ‘fourth at worst’.

“Look, I don’t know, on theoretical I think Max was at least fourth and the track was improving,” Horner added. 

“I think we could have had a shot at the very least, the front row today. At least it happened today, not tomorrow. We will race hard from there and give it everything.”

It was a frustrating day for Sergio Perez, who was knocked out in Q2, settling for 11th on the grid.

“Very frustrating to lose Checo in Q2, he got a little bit of traffic in Turn 2 and then actually, Max felt a lot more comfortable with the balance of the car today and I think we were in with a shot of the pole today, Horner explained. “A lock-up on the first run into Turn 2 put us on the back foot but still, we felt confident that we could have a crack at it. 

“Unfortunately, a power unit-related issue on his out-lap that we were trying to reset sensors and so on to try and cure it and clear it, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be. No representative time from Max in Q3 so 10th/11th on the grid, it’s going to be a busy race tomorrow. Congrats to George Russell on his first pole, a pretty tidy lap.”