World Champion Max Verstappen does not want to lose Red Bull’s strength in Formula 1 races even if it meant improved Qualifying performance.
Although he has taken seven of the 12 pole positions on offer in 2023, rival teams are much closer to the RB19 on a Saturday afternoon than in actual Grands Prix where the race pace advantage is massively clear of the likes of Mercedes, Aston Martin, Ferrari and McLaren.
Verstappen was pipped to pole by 0.003s by Lewis Hamilton in Hungary – the only time since Miami he has not ‘won’ Qualifying. He started sixth in the Belgian Grand Prix after a five-place grid drop, having set the fastest lap in Q3.
When asked if he would like a little extra performance on a Saturday, Verstappen was firm in his reply.
“I think we can improve it, but that will hurt our race pace,” Verstappen explained to media including RacingNews365.
“At the end of the day, the points are in the race, so for me, of course that is more important.
“Pole position is nice, but it doesn’t give me anything, but we will try to find a compromise.
One hallmark of Verstappen’s wins in 2023 has been his ability to look after the tyres, but still pull seconds per lap out on the chasing pack as he does so, often late in the race.
It is something he puts down to the fuel load.
“We start with such a heavy car with fuel that naturally in the beginning you have to manage everything,” he said.
“You can see in the final stint that it always seems like we can push a bit more, but on some tracks, it is harder to push because of the degradation.
“But when the car becomes lighter, it is actually not too bad – it is just that we have to start with such a high fuel load.”