Max Verstappen felt his engine issue in Q2 ultimately “ruined” his entire qualifying  session for Formula 1’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.

Verstappen suffered a suspected spark plug failure on his Red Bull F1 car in the second segment of qualifying and had to return to the pits so his crew could fix the problem.

Remarkably, his Red Bull team worked wonders to turn around his car and sent him back out to contest the final minute of the session, with Verstappen ultimately progressing through to Q3 following a single run of Medium tyres.

The Dutchman went on to qualify third, half a second down on the Mercedes duo. But Verstappen felt he could have been closer had his rhythm not been disturbed.

“I don’t know exactly what it was,” Verstappen said.

“Of course the bodywork had to go off and I think the mechanics did a very good job to fix the car. But it basically ruined a bit my qualifying, because you have to go out on the Mediums, basically nail that lap.

“We just managed to go through on that, but then the reference was a bit off, the first lap in Q3, the tyres were a bit cold because I was in the middle of a train. I never really got into a nice rhythm where you know I’ve got a little bit of time here where I can push a little bit harder. It was a bit messy.

“Even in Q3, on the last lap, I think we could have done quite a bit better here if we just had a smoother qualifying. If you have that in Q2 and you then have to qualify on a different tyre midway through then yeah, it’s not great.

“I didn’t expect of course to beat them [Mercedes] in qualifying, I just wanted to be a bit closer and make it a bit more exciting.

“Today, it was just very tricky and I never really found that rhythm that you normally get in qualifying where you put a new tyre set on and I know where to find my lap time. I was just learning still to go faster.

“So a bit of a shame but still P3, so back in my seat.”

Verstappen was instructed to keep going after he had initially reported the problem before deciding to abort his run having suffered from power drop outs in his engine.

“I had power then not, then it kicked in again and then not,” he explained.

“They told me to keep going and I was like: ‘Guys, I’m losing quite a bit of lap time here on the straights’ so I aborted because it didn’t make sense to continue.

“We’ll have a more detailed look at what exactly what went wrong with my engineers because it doesn’t make sense to go through qualifying discussing what broke. Just focus on the job and it’s not so lovely but luckily we’re still here.”

Asked if he expects Red Bull to be closer to Mercedes in the race, Verstappen replied: “The long run was alright so hopefully we will be a bit similar tomorrow.

“Let’s hope that top-speed wise we will be in a good position tomorrow. I don’t think it will be easy to pass anyway, but we’ll see what we can do.”