Max Verstappen admits he is mystified by his lack of pace during Q3 ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
The Red Bull driver ended the session fourth fastest, while team-mate Sergio Perez claimed the first pole position of his career.
It marks just the second time that Verstappen has been out-qualified by Perez on pure performance since the start of the 2021 season.
Verstappen says that he was pleased with the car’s pace during the first two segments of qualifying before the performance fekk away in Q3.
“Q1 and Q2 was very good,” Verstappen said. “Even my last after the long red flag, I went out on that old set and it was looking really good.
“And so I was very comfortable going into Q3. But then I put that first tyre set on and I had no grip, it felt like I was driving on a different tyre.
“Every corner, I was just losing one or two tenths while doing the same preparation and everything, so I really don’t understand what went wrong there.
“And the second tyre set, after such a long break, because of the red flag, everything cools down ambient, track, so there is a big track progression.
“But for me, it felt like I was actually just getting slower. So that’s something which is very weird.
“And then I have my delta still from Q1, because actually never improved from that going into Q3.
“Some corners I was still even losing time to that. So that’s pretty weird but yeah, we’ll look into it.”
Nevertheless, Verstappen is confident ahead of the race, and is hopeful that he can move forward and contend for victory.
“It’s not the end of the world, because we see the potential in the car with Checo in first, I’m happy for him. He deserves it.
“So we’ll look at tomorrow. I think we look good. We have good top speed as well. And I hope of course we can use that tomorrow.”