Max Verstappen suggested he was unhappy with Red Bull’s choice of strategy as he was again outplaced by teammate Sergio Perez in qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Fresh from his father Jos’s dig at the team for their tactics during the Monaco Grand Prix, which Perez won with the world champion finishing third, Verstappen questioned over the radio why he had sent out first at the end of Q3. A driver is sometimes sent out just behind their teammate so they can benefit from a tow, something particularly important in Baku due to the street track’s very long start-finish straight.
However, a fuel problem with Perez’s car led to him leaving the garage well after Verstappen, meaning he wasn’t close enough to his teammate to benefit from a slipstream. Charles Leclerc took a superb pole position, with Perez second and Verstappen third as the Mexican again suggested he could turn the title battle into a three-way fight.
“There was a small issue with the refuelling that delayed him [Perez] unfortunately. I think it was just a numbers error,” Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told Sky Sports F1 when asked about Verstappen’s gripe.
“It’s a shame for Checo because he didn’t get the benefit from a tow, but he did have the perfect out-lap. His performance was mighty. With a tow, it might have been close [for pole], but I still don’t think we would have had the pace to nail Charles today.
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“I think they [Ferrari] had the upper hand over a single lap. We’ve focused more on tomorrow than today and we’re second and third. We’ve seen this year some great racing between ourselves and Ferrari. This year’s cars have demonstrated you can follow a little closer and overtake. We’ll be hoping to make use of that tomorrow.”
It is unclear whether it was Red Bull’s intention to send Perez out behind his teammate or whether Verstappen was just a victim of the sister car’s fuel issue.
Meanwhile, Perez said: “At the end, we had a little problem with the engine, we couldn’t turn it on which meant I was on my own [without a slipstream] and that’s very powerful around here. Who knows if it was enough for pole? We lost a few tenths but Charles has done a very good lap.”
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