June 20, 2024
Max Verstappen

Verstappen reveals damage to his diffuser

Max Verstappen endured a difficult final segment of Sprint Qualifying at the Chinese Grand Prix, with the Dutchman ending the session in P4 after having more than one off-track moment as he struggled with the slippery track conditions.

Max Verstappen had entered SQ3 off the back of a good SQ2, in which he had topped the timesheets. However, the rain that had started in the second segment increased in the final eight minutes of Sprint Qualifying, and Verstappen was amongst the drivers to go wide on the damp Shanghai International Circuit.

After having a couple of lap times deleted for exceeding track limits, the Red Bull driver ultimately ended the session in fourth place but admitted afterwards that the position was “deserved” given the difficulties he had faced.

“It was incredibly slippery,” commented Verstappen. “I just struggled a lot to get the temperature in the tyres, so that’s why it was just very difficult to keep the car on track and it never really switched on for me, so it was just like driving on ice.

“That’s why also I think it’s quite deserved where we are in qualifying – it was just not really working for me in the wet, even though in the dry I think we looked quite good, so I’m of course quite happy with that.”

Despite his tough end to qualifying, Verstappen will still line up towards the front of the pack in P4 for Saturday’s Sprint. Asked if he felt there were opportunities ahead in the 100-kilometre race, the world champion answered: “Yeah, for sure. It’s not ideal to start on the inside here.

“There’s a lot lower grip left to right with this painted stuff on the tarmac, so we have to try and have the best start possible, and then of course I think it’s going to be quite a long stint on one set of tyres in the Sprint, but that makes it quite interesting.”

On the other side of the Red Bull garage, Sergio Perez had looked strong in the early stages of Sprint Qualifying, having set the pace from Verstappen in SQ1. The Mexican struggled more as the conditions changed, though, and ended the day in P6.

Reflecting on SQ3, Perez said: “Things were looking great initially, then with the traffic with the back-off people were doing, we were onto a good final lap, and unfortunately I just couldn’t do the final corner. It was so tricky to get through the final corner and that meant that I went off.”

Given that he had appeared comfortable with the RB20 earlier on, Perez is still hopeful about what he can achieve in the first Sprint of the 2024 season.

“I think we are in a good place,” he added. “We’ve been confident straightaway. I’m in a good moment with the car, so in any conditions I think we can be competitive from now on, so that’s all very promising.”

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