Max Verstappen believes his deficit to the Mercedes drivers in Q3 was not fully representative, as he secured third on the grid for the Monaco Grand Prix.
Verstappen led the way through Q2 but endured a so-so Q3 and wound up almost half a second adrift of the time set by pole sitter Lewis Hamilton.
“I think in general, when you look through the weekend, I think we were just missing those two or three-tenths in the end,” said Verstappen.
“Q2 was a very good lap, but also the tyres were switched on. Around here, your tyres, that makes quite a bit of a difference.
“In Q3, my first run, I went into Turn 1, the rear tyres were still not gripping up for me, so I lost a bit of time there. And from there on, my lap was pretty stable compared to Q2, so it was not bad.
“Then my final run in Q3, I got a bit of traffic on my out-lap and when I started the lap, they just felt cold, the tyres had no grip and I was already two-tenths above it, so I decided to abort.
“I don’t think it’s [the gap] half a second anyway. In Q3, I just didn’t get the tyres to work, and around here that is very crucial, because in Q2 we were competitive.
“We know we have some work to do to catch up, but I think as a team we keep pushing very hard to try and do that as soon as possible.”
Verstappen joked that “the funny thing is that two of my practice starts have been from P3, so I rubbered my own box and it looks good.
“So we’ll see what’s going to happen, but I’m happy about today. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.”
Verstappen’s team-mate Pierre Gasly qualified fifth but remains under investigation for allegedly impeding Romain Grosjean in Q2.