Max Verstappen admits that he had hoped for more in qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, having taken P3 on the grid.
The Dutchman will start behind pole-sitter Charles Leclerc and Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez in Sunday’s race, and the result is a case of history repeating, given that he also started third last time out in Monaco.
It seems that Verstappen’s RB18 is not quite doing what he wants on street circuits, particularly in terms of lacking in front end.
“That’s been the case a bit all year, of course,” Verstappen told media, including RacingNews365.com, after qualifying in Baku.
“On street circuits it’s even worse, it’s not great. We are trying to work on that. You always want to be further forward of course, with a better balance in the car.
“It wasn’t the balance in the car I wanted anyway, not all weekend and not during qualifying either.”
Verstappen not concerned by Perez being faster
Verstappen was again beaten by Perez in qualifying, but this isn’t worrying him.
“It can happen, it’s not a drama,” he said, before seemingly referring to his dominance over previous teammates by adding: “The way it was in recent years was not normal either.”
When asked by RacingNews365.com if he has tuned his car more for the race than qualifying, Verstappen explained: “No, you go for both.
“It’s difficult at the moment to find a good balance in that. I think Ferrari are going hard in the race as well. Maybe they can peak a bit better in qualifying but they will just be strong on Sunday as well.”
Red Bull appear to have a stronger top speed, but Verstappen knows that he will have to follow Leclerc’s Ferrari closely to take advantage of that.
“I hope it helps, but they are very strong in the second sector. If you can get a gap there, then it doesn’t matter much either,” he added.
Why Verstappen’s problems have been worse in Baku
Verstappen likes a car that turns in sharply and can live with a ‘loose’ rear end. The RB18, on the other hand, grips less at the front and that bothers the Dutchman more on street circuits, where confidence in the car and a predictable car are very important, combined with lots of right-angle corners.
“It’s getting a bit better, but everyone is getting into a rhythm,” Verstappen reflected.
“We have to make a step to get the maximum out of the car, that’s not the case now.”
While Red Bull are working on the issue, it does not look to be a quick fix.
The 2021 World Champion continued: “There are certain things you can adjust, such as a different view of the set-up. But how the car is built, that is difficult to adjust this year.
“The car is built differently, with a different philosophy than in recent years. With a new car it’s difficult to get it right straight away. You go to work and say, ‘I want this and this on the car’ and it will come.”
Verstappen has been particularly bothered by the weaker areas of the RB18 on the streets of Monaco and Baku.
“It’s not so much that the wall is close, but because of the character of the circuit,” he said.
“Many tight 90 degree corners. Then you need a car that turns very fast. But now I can’t find that balance between front and rear.”