Max Verstappen says he doesn’t understand what happened in his “terrible” final corner crash in Formula 1 qualifying for the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix that cost him a potential pole position.
Verstappen found himself battling both Mercedes drivers for pole in Q3, and as he began his final flying lap had been demoted to third place by Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
Having survived a brush with the wall on the exit of Turn 2, Verstappen set purple first and second sectors that left him two-tenths up on Hamilton’s provisional pole lap time.
But entering the last corner, Verstappen locked up his left-front tyre, running wide as a result, before clipping the outside wall with his right-rear wheel and breaking his suspension.
The incident blew his chances of stealing pole from title rival Hamilton, leaving him third on the grid for Sunday’s race behind the two Mercedes.
“Yeah, it’s of course terrible,” Verstappen said. “But that was generally a good qualifying.
“It was a bit hard of course to switch on the tyres here on the street circuit, but I knew the pace was there and it showed in the last segment.
“I don’t really understand what happened, but I locked up and I still tried to of course keep the car on the track, try to finish the lap but I clipped the rear and had to stop.”
Verstappen sits eight points ahead of Hamilton in the drivers’ championship ahead of the final two races, but would lose his points lead if the grid positions remained as they were by the chequered flag.
While the Red Bull driver was disappointed to let a pole chance slip away due to his mistake, Verstappen noted the strong pace from the RB16B around the Jeddah circuit.
“P3 is a bit disappointing of course today, knowing what lap I was on,” Verstappen added.
“Nevertheless, it shows that the car is quick and let’s see what we can do in the race.”
Verstappen’s impact with the wall may have caused damage to his cars internal components, but he stressed it was too early to know if his gearbox may have sustained any crash damage.
“I don’t know. I immediately stopped, so let’s see,” Verstappen said.”