Verstappen was scuppered by a red flag caused by Charles Leclerc, which ended the session early.

His teammate Sergio Perez will start the grand prix in pole position.

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Sky’s Ted Kravitz reported afterwards: “Why couldn’t we get it going again?

“Time was ticking down. Once he saw Leclerc’s crash, arguably had he pressed the red flag right then with [approximately] 1m 38s to go, possibly that would have been enough for an out-lap for a 1m 28s lap. Ten seconds for an out-lap. Arguably not, but possible.

“But that’s not what happened. [Race director Niels] Wittich had to go through his procedures, which he did, check that the situation merited a red flag, which it did, and by that time there was only [1m 36s] left. It wasn’t possible to do the out-lap. That’s why he said the session will not resume.

“Difficult call because that meant Verstappen wasn’t able to do another lap.

“After qualifying, Christian Horner and Adrian Newey were on the pitwall asking Jonathan Wheatley - the rules man at Red Bull - whether that was legit, basically.

"Whether the race director could say under what circumstances the session would not resume.

“Obviously they were happy that Perez was on pole.

“If you were cynical you could say they wanted Verstappen on pole instead, but I don’t think that they think that way. In fact, I know they don’t think that way.

“They are very even-handed between their two drivers.

“What they did want, clearly, was for both drivers to be one and two.

“For that to happen, you needed the session to resume.

“Horner and Wheatley wanted to understand if it was in the race director’s gift to say that the session would not resume - which, in fact, it was.

“Once they sorted that out, it was the definition of bittersweet for Red Bull.”

Reigning champion Verstappen has claimed that he can achieve “at least” P2 in the race despite beginning from ninth.

Lewis Hamilton shockingly qualified in 13th.