After a dazzling effort in practice earlier in the day, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen fully expected to be contending for pole position in qualifying on Saturday, only to end up disappointed having to settle for fourth place on the grid almost three quarters of a second off Nico Rosberg’s time.
“I think Nico just did a very good lap,” Verstappen admitted afterwards. “As soon as you feel comfortable in the car, it’s a lot of lap time around this track so the differences can be bigger on the street circuit if you feel comfortable.
“The whole qualifying was difficult,” he admitted. “The whole weekend I’ve been happy, and then at the moment where it had to be done I was not happy. Then you don’t feel comfortable and then you can’t take the risk you normally want to take as you’re fighting with the car. So yeah, not a fantastic qualifying.
“I just couldn’t get the front tyres to work for the first sector and it just snowballs. You can’t get ready, you don’t feel comfortable, you start locking tyres, and then also sector two, sector three you’re not extracting the most out of them because in sector one you’re just killing the understeer by going on the throttle but that kills your rear tyres.”
Verstappen dismissed suggestions that the night time conditions might have been behind his Q3 struggles.
“No, because then I would have felt it yesterday as well in FP2,” he pointed out. “There the issues were not that big. It’s a bit of shame but you can’t change it now. Hopefully in the race it will clear by trying to adjust some things, but we’ll see.”
Verstappen added that he hoped he would be able to overcome these issues when it came to the race itself.
“I think in the race at one point the tyres will work and hopefully we’ll have the pace again. I think, yeah – they are very strong, but on the other hand they’re struggling a bit more so maybe we can find it.”
And qualifying in Singapore certainly proved a memorable one thanks to his close encounter with a giant lizard quickly dubbed ‘Godzilla’ that happened to be wandering across the track.
“I was very surprised! Normally I only ever saw them in the zoo,” he laughed. “I didn’t want to stop there, of course – I just wanted to drive away from it but it was cool to see.
“I saw him out of the corner and said ‘He’s coming, he’s coming’ and then he stopped and I was like ‘I just go now’ and then I saw in my mirror he was going because I think Felipe was behind there so he went in between us but he didn’t know where to go.
“Maybe he’s walking around the paddock!”
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