Max Verstappen ‘deserves’ fourth after surprise sprint qualifying struggles

Max Verstappen struggled to keep his Red Bull F1 car on track during a difficult sprint qualifying.

Max Verstappen was off the pace in sprint qualifying
Max Verstappen was off the pace in sprint qualifying

Max Verstappen admits he “deserves” to only be fourth on the grid for the F1 Chinese Grand Prix sprint race after a difficult qualifying.

The reigning world champion uncharacteristically made errors on two consecutive laps in SQ3 before he improved to only go fourth-quickest in a dramatic and wet qualifying in Shanghai.

Verstappen found it difficult to keep his Red Bull on track in the low grip conditions, which he likened to “driving on ice”.

"It was incredibly slippery, I struggled a lot to get the temperature into the tyres so that is why it is very difficult to keep the car on track," the three-time world champion said.

"It never really switched on for me so it was like driving on ice. That is why I think we deserve to be where we are after qualifying.

"Because it was not really working for me in the wet, even though in the dry I think we look quite good. So, of course, I am quite happy with that.”

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB20. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai, China, Sprint
Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB20. Formula 1 World Championship,…

Verstappen had been unbeaten in qualifying so far this year but Sky Sports F1’s Karun Chandhok described the session as not being the Dutchman’s“finest hour”.

“He has been unbeaten in qualifying sessions until today,” Chandhok said.

“He was tentative with the car, unable to get any grip, sliding on the top surface. It got better as the session unfolded but it’s not his finest hour.

“But in a race situation you can never discount him. You just know he’ll be in amongst it.”

And Verstappen conceded he is not best-placed for Saturday’s sprint race due to being on the inside of the grid.

"It is not ideal to start on the inside here, it is a lot lower grip on the left compared to the right with this painted stuff on the tarmac," he explained. "We have to try and have the best start possible.

"Then it is going to be quite a long stint on one set of tyres in the sprint but that makes it quite interesting.”

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