"Ice" circuit left Verstappen confused by diminishing qualifying pace
Red Bull's Max Verstappen was left confused by qualifying after progressively getting slower throughout the session on his way to third on the grid for the Portuguese Grand Prix.
Verstappen set his fastest lap time in Q1, the session where drivers usually feel their way into the afternoon before ramping up the speed across Q2 and Q3.
Whilst Mercedes opted to switch to medium tyres for its final run, Red Bull stayed on softs. Verstappen revealed the idea of swapping compounds was never in the pipeline.
"We just committed to the softs for the whole of qualifying, but already the whole weekend has been really tricky to get the tyres to work," said Verstappen.
"Besides, not just the tyres, but the Tarmac is just very slippery, with one line you can take. Overall it's still good to be third.
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"But it was a confusing qualifying as I did my fastest lap in Q1. I couldn't replicate it because I didn't have the same grip.
"It just seems like it was a bit more difficult for us to get the tyres in a better window even though in Q3 compared to Q2 it felt a bit better on the very first timed lap.
"For me, personally, not very enjoyable to drive at the moment with the tyres and grip on the track.
"I was here in January and I thought it was going to be amazing to drive a Formula 1 car. The scenery is amazing but the grip we have, and for me personally, it's like driving on ice, which is a bit of a shame."
Looking ahead to the race, Verstappen pointed to the lack of tyre information as a reason to be optimistic about challenging Mercedes.
However, he warned against a turn one divebomb following his clash with Lance Stroll in FP2.
"I think turn one is not really the place to dive," he explained. "It was not the intention [to try it in practice].
"We don't really have a lot of information on how the tyres are going to hold up so we will just feel our way into the race and see what happens."
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