Gearbox issue cost Verstappen second row start for Baku

Azerbaijan Grand Prix Qualifying became a question of ‘What If?’ for Max Verstappen as a gearbox issue cost him any chance of competitiveness with the Ferrari drivers.

Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen has been left frustrated with qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after losing time to a gearbox synchronization issue during his final Q3 lap.

After his first run in Q3 was quick enough for a second-row start behind two Mercedes, Verstappen was jumped by both Ferrari’s in their final flying laps of the session.

“I think we realistically had a shot at P3 today,” he told media after the session.

But instead, the Dutchman will unfortunately find himself starting tomorrow’s race from what Team Principal Christian Horner described as an “underwhelming” P5.

At this stage, Red Bull have not changed the gearbox. Doing so would carry a grid penalty with it.

“I lost gear sync in the second sector,” Verstappen explained to media, “it cost me a couple of tenths which was frustrating and meant we could not challenge for third.”

Kimi Raikkonen, who eventually grabbed P3, only out-qualified Verstappen by just 0.186s – proving just how valuable those “couple of tenths” really were for the young Dutchman.

Consequently, Verstappen will now start the Grand Prix already behind both Ferrari drivers.

Verstappen won’t be helped by team mate Daniel Ricciardo (pictured) after he crashed in Q3, leaving him to start in an even less-than-impressive, P10.

The starting position is a devastating blow to the Milton Keynes based outfit because Verstappen and Ricciardo were both extremely quick during Friday’s long run simulations, outpacing everyone, even including the two Mercedes.

For a more in-depth look at the expected race pace, be sure to click here.

“It would be great to get on the podium and that is the goal,” Verstappen admitted after qualifying.”

He, however, wasn’t optimistic of an upset victory, conceding Mercedes were likely untouchable because they made a “big step” on Saturday.

Instead, Verstappen was thinking more about his own performance, telling media, “I’m hopeful we can get on top of these issues overnight and be ready for tomorrow.

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Steven Walton is an 18-year-old Journalism Student at the Ara Institute of Canterbury. He previously attended St Andrew's College in Christchurch, where he excelled at History and Classical Studies. Steven is the Editor-in-Chief at Green Flag F1 and spends most of his days living, breathing, and immersing in the Formula 1 world.

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