Max Verstappen was left frustrated by what he described as his first “scrappy” laps in a long time during qualifying for Formula 1’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

The Dutchman had arguably gone into qualifying as the favourite for pole after topping final practice, but ended up third and 0.087s adrift of Lewis Hamilton despite improving on his final flying lap of Q3.

That followed a wide moment at Turn 3 on his first effort but Verstappen ultimately felt both his laps were below-par as he ended up being outqualified by teammate Sergio Perez in just his second event for Red Bull.

“It [the car] felt alright in FP3, and just in qualifying you change tyres from soft to medium, try to put your lap in and it was all coming along nicely,” Verstappen explained.

“But then in Q3 on the final run I just didn’t have a good lap. I went off at Turn 3 with two wheels. I know that Honda makes good lawnmowers but I don’t think this one was suited for that! But at least I tried.

“It was just a really scrappy lap, I haven’t had that in a long time so just need to understand why that happened.

“But nevertheless I think we were very close so that’s positive, and like Checo said we have two cars close to Lewis on different tyres so hopefully that will get some excitement tomorrow.”

Asked for an explanation for his mistake amid the tight battle for pole, Verstappen replied: “It has been going really well for a very long time, but unfortunately we are not robots!

“I can’t program myself like that. But sometimes it happens, you make a mistake.”

But Verstappen remains optimistic about Red Bull’s victory chances in the race, with both drivers hunting down Hamilton’s sole Mercedes with Valtteri Bottas starting from a lowly P8.

Red Bull has split its strategy with Perez differing to the other frontrunners by starting on the Soft compound tyre, giving him a theoretical advantage for the run down to Turn 1.

“I mean of course we have to wait and see what’s going to happen tomorrow but it’s going to be interesting what can be done,” Verstappen said.

“Not only with that but also what the weather is going to do, if there is a bit of rain or not, so I guess we just have to wait and see what’s going to happen. But hopefully in the race it will be close again.”



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