Red Bull has been struggling against Ferrari since the beginning of the Formula 1 weekend in Melbourne. The RB18 is not easily driven by its racing drivers. Beaten by almost 0.3 seconds in the race for pole position by Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen admits that he is not confident enough to attack.
Max Verstappen feels that things are slipping away from him and it was with visible disappointment that he commented on his second place on the Australian Grand Prix grid after qualifying on Saturday. The Dutchman, who was the fastest driver before his last attempt, made a mistake and lost pole position to Charles Leclerc by 0.286 seconds, following a final charge from the Monegasque.
His conclusion is that nothing is really going right. Red Bull was dominated by Ferrari on Friday, by Lando Norris’ McLaren and Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari on Saturday during the last practice session before qualifying, and momentarily regained the lead in Q1 and Q2. But he didn’t make it count when it counted.
“I don’t feel good in the car so far this weekend,” the reigning world champion told former Formula One driver Johnny Herbert.
“There hasn’t been a lap where I’ve felt confident, so it’s difficult. Second is still a good result, but it’s not great to go for the limit. We’ll try to analyse that.
“It’s probably settling down a bit in race pace, but so far this weekend the problem is all over the place,” he added.
Sergio Pérez, who set the fastest lap in Q2, did not repeat the lap of his life in Jeddah but easily secured third place, given the masterful miss by Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), the only man who could have beaten him to that position.
“In Q1 and Q2 it went well,” said Checo. Red flags are always very hard because they break the rhythm,” he continued, referring to Fernando Alonso’s accident at the start of Q3.
“I’m a bit concerned about our decision on strategy in Q3, but it’s already good to start third.”
On Sky Sports, Christian Horner had more to say about his drivers’ failures.
“It was a great lap from Charles,” the Red Bull Racing team boss began by congratulating him.
“I’m quite happy with positions 2 and 3, and each of our drivers looked at one point capable of going for pole. Max locked the wheels and that cost him about 0″3, which would have put him very close to Charles [Leclerc]’s time. Pérez was carrying more fuel because he wanted to do three laps in preparation.”
But the hardest part may be yet to come. The FIA has opened an investigation into the Mexican’s overly fast pace under yellow after the crashes of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and Williams’ Nicholas Latifi. He risks a demotion on the starting grid. Red Bull’s pole position tally in Melbourne therefore remains stuck at three, all for Sebastian Vettel, in 2010, 2011 and 2013, for a single victory, in 2011.