Max in P5 in China Qualifying: 'Could have fought for third place'

Published on 13 April 2019 by Kees-Jan Koster

Max Verstappen has qualified fifth for the Chinese Grand Prix. With a 1:32.089 the Dutchman came just over half a second short of the quickest time, set by Valtteri Bottas. Verstappen managed after his first run to set a time between the two Ferraris, but because of the traffic both Max and his teammate Pierre Gasly weren’t able to do a second quick lap in the final phase of qualifying. Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc completed the top four.

After qualifying Verstappen explains why he could not start a second run: “We were all driving nicely in a row, but suddenly I was passed by Vettel and both Renaults. They messed up my whole run-up. It is an unwritten rule to follow each other. I am not happy, but it will most likely happen to others too. It is annoying, because we could have fought for a third place.”

Max hates what happened, especially because there was more to be had. The speed seemed to be very good: “Absolutely, but when you cannot do a second run that is it. The car felt good and in terms of speed we were just there.”

About tomorrow’s race Max says the following: “Everyone in front of me also starts on the mediums, so we have to wait and see how it goes during the race. I do not know if we can go for a victory, but we will definitely try to get a podium. It will be an interesting Sunday.”

With a temperature of almost twenty degrees, qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix starts. The Williams drivers are the first to come out on track, and it is Robert Kubica who sets the first time.

Half way through Q1 the top six consist of Valtteri Botttas, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Daniil Kvyat, Charles Leclerc and Kimi Raikkonen. However, many drivers are still underway for their quick laps, causing the ranking to change rapidly. Max Verstappen sets a time of 1:33.274 in his first run, giving him a third place, six tenths behind Bottas.

At the end of Q1, Lance Stroll, George Russell, Robert Kubica, Antonio Giovinazzi and Alexander Albon drop out. The latter was not able to drive at all, because of the damaged to his Toro Rosso, after the crash in the third free practice, was to extensive to fix it in time. Verstappen is the fourth to go through to Q2.

There is a lot of traffic straight from the start of the second qualifying session. Besides both Ferraris and Mercedes, also Max Verstappen is on the yellow medium tyres. The rest of the field is on the red compound. After the first run it is Bottas (1:31.728), Vettel (+0.504), Leclerc (+0.596), Verstappen (+0.641), Hamilton (+0.875) and Gasly (+1.220) who form the top six.

When the drivers start their second run, we see Valtteri Bottas, contrary to his first run, to go for a set of the red soft tyres. Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen follow his example. However, all three of them slow down at the end of their quick lap, so they do not improve their times and will start the race tomorrow on the yellow medium tyres.

Daniil Kvyat, Sergio Pérez, Kimi Raikkonen, Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris come short and are knocked out of Q2. With that it is Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Haas who will compete for the first ten grid places.

Max Verstappen sets a time of 1:32.089 in his first flying lap of Q3, taking the fourth place in between the two Ferraris. At that time Valtteri Bottas is the quickest with a 1:31.563. Lewis Hamilton (+0.007) and Sebastian Vettel (+0.438) complete the top three.

Bottas improves again in his second run, with which the winner of the Australian Grand Prix, takes his second pole position of the year. Lewis Hamilton only comes 0.023 seconds short and will start tomorrow form second place. Vettel (+0.301) and Leclerc (+0.318) take the second start row. Max Verstappen (P5) as well as Pierre Gasly (P6) reach the start/finish too late, so they cannot start a second and final quick lap. Ricciardo, Hülkenberg, Magnussen and Grosjean complete the top ten.

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Results qualifying China:

1Valtteri BottasBOTMercedes1:32.6581:31.7281:31.547
2Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:33.1151:31.6371:31.570
3Sebastian VettelVETFerrari1:33.5571:32.2321:31.848
4Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:32.7121:32.3241:31.865
5Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda1:33.2741:32.3691:32.089
6Pierre GaslyGASRed Bull Racing Honda1:33.8631:32.9481:32.930
7Daniel RicciardoRICRenault1:33.7091:33.2141:32.958
8Nico HulkenbergHULRenault1:33.6441:32.9681:32.962
9Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:34.0361:33.150DNF
10Romain GrosjeanGROHaas Ferrari1:33.7521:33.156DNF
11Daniil KvyatKVYScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:33.7831:33.236
12Sergio PerezPERRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:34.0261:33.299
13Kimi RäikkönenRAIAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:34.1251:33.419
14Carlos SainzSAIMcLaren Renault1:33.6861:33.523
15Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Renault1:34.1481:33.967
16Lance StrollSTRRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:34.292
17George RussellRUSWilliams Mercedes1:35.253
18Robert KubicaKUBWilliams Mercedes1:35.281
0Antonio GiovinazziGIOAlfa Romeo Racing FerrariDNF