The world championship leaders around Max Verstappen and Red Bull had to accept a bitter defeat in Formula 1 qualifying in Hungary.
After the Bulls had already lost Sergio Pérez in Q2, world champion Verstappen did not get past last place in Q3 either, meaning that he will only start the race at the Hungaroring on Sunday from tenth place.
The Dutchman had already ruined his first run with a braking error in the second corner and only started the decisive attempt in seventh place.
But he couldn’t improve there because of problems with his engine. “I just didn’t have the power,” he says. “The engine ran, but nothing arrived. It’s obviously painful.”
According to team boss Christian Horner, Red Bull “tried to reset a few sensors to fix it, but unfortunately it didn’t work”. Red Bull does not reveal exactly where the problem was, but motorsport consultant Helmut Marko says on “Sky”: “We think we know what it is and the exchange of this part is possible without penalty.”
Braking on the first lap
Because all the other drivers behind him were able to improve again in the last run, Verstappen fell back from seventh to tenth place. The fact that he starts so far back is partly due to himself with his mistake in the first lap.
“My wheels locked in turn 2, I just had no grip at the front,” says Verstappen. “Maybe the outlap was a little slow,” he muses. “But usually your second try is good and you have another chance, but unfortunately we couldn’t make the round.”
From Red Bull’s point of view, that’s pretty bitter, because overtaking is difficult in Hungary in particular, so you need a good starting position. “Singapore, Monte Carlo and here, these are the three courses where you don’t want something like that,” Marko is annoyed.
Much better feeling than Friday
The question is what would have been possible for Verstappen without the problems. “I don’t know,” says Horner on “Sky”. “Theoretically, he would have been at least fourth, and the track has gotten better,” says the Briton and believes: “We would have at least had a chance of getting on the front row. But fortunately it happened today and not tomorrow.”
Verstappen says that he actually felt good up until then and was positively surprised by the pace. “The guys and gals at the factory did a lot of analysis last night because we weren’t happy at all. We made really positive changes and the car was a lot better to drive for me.”
“We looked very competitive, even in Q2 on the used tires we were always very quick,” continued the Dutchman. “I was looking forward to Q3, and then the first lap didn’t work out. I knew the pace was in the car, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to show it then.”
Mercedes helps in the World Championship fight
At least one can console oneself at Red Bull with the fact that their main competitor Ferrari also missed pole position, which surprisingly went to George Russell in the Mercedes. “I was surprised to see that,” says Verstappen. “They were close, but I didn’t expect them to make that leap in Q3. That’s good for me, of course.”
“But,” he continues, “you have to do me a favor tomorrow. That’s more important.”
From position ten it should be difficult for him to intervene in the fight at the front. However, he rules out a tactical engine change: “We can still have a good result,” he dismisses. “It’s difficult to overtake here, but anything can happen. It’s not worth getting a penalty from tenth place.”