Verstappen rues ‘stupid qualifying’ that leaves him P3

Max Verstappen described qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as “stupid” after being limited to third place in a session heavily interrupted by red flags.

Q1 took 40 minutes to complete after crashes for Lance Stroll and Antonio Giovinazzi, while Daniel Ricciardo then hit the wall at Turn 3 to bring a premature end to Q2. In the final part of qualifying, drivers were on their final attempts when Yuki Tsunoda crashed in the exact same position to finish the session early, preventing any improvements and leaving an unhappy Verstappen behind Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton.

“It was just a stupid qualifying, to be honest,” Verstappen said. “Anyway, it is what it is. We’re still P3, have a good car and it was a good recovery from FP3. Everything was working out fine and then all this s••t is all the time happening.

“It’s a street circuit, so these things can happen. Our car is strong so I just hope that tomorrow in the race we can look after our tires and score good points.”

Having looked so quick in Friday practice, Verstappen believes not having a tow was the biggest difference between qualifying third and pole position, with Leclerc and Hamilton both benefitting from a slipstream.

“I was just building up confidence — it’s not easy around here with the braking and stuff, but the whole qualifying with the red flags didn’t make it easy for all of us. The car felt good, but just a bit of a scrappy qualifying, especially Q3. The lap itself was quite decent, but I lacked the tow to the line, but slow on the straight.”

However, with the likes of Sergio Perez starting seventh and Valtteri Bottas 10th, Verstappen acknowledges a top-three start after such a dramatic qualifying is not the worst result.

“As you can see in qualifying, a lot of things are happening. Maybe in the race these things can happen again. Let’s hope for a clean start and we’ll see from there.”