After a disappointing qualifying session where he finished P7, Max Verstappen thinks Red Bull need to assess why this year’s RB14 is struggling so much in extreme weather.
Historically, Red Bull’s hybrid-era machinery has performed well in changeable conditions, but last week’s German Grand Prix and Hungary’s qualifying were two occasions this season where it hasn’t benefitted them.
“Usually I feel comfortable enough to lay down a lap in these conditions but I just was not able to today,” Verstappen said after the session, where he was well adrift of Mercedes and Ferrari.
Red Bull originally came into this weekend confident that a victory could be on the table, given the circuit’s tight and twisty nature.
“Red Bull … are as quick as we expected,” Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas commented following Friday practice.
Teammate Lewis Hamilton went further, adding that Red Bull “had a little bit more pace than [Mercedes]” during Friday’s two ninety-minute practice sessions.
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner noted how his team’s pace deteriorated as the conditions worsened during qualifying in Hungary.
This was a view Max Verstappen agreed with, saying the intermediates “weren’t that bad” but the extreme wet tyres, which he set his final time on, were “really tricky.”
“The grip wasn’t there for him to challenge the leading times,” Horner said.
Verstappen final qualifying effort was almost 2.4 seconds behind Lewis Hamilton’s eventual pole time.
It seems as though Red Bull would’ve performed better in normal, dry conditions, as Verstappen said he had made positive setup changes following the 60-minute third practice earlier that morning.
“We made some setup changes that I think would have made it better for Qualifying, had it not rained,” he said.
“I feel, due to the rain, we have missed an opportunity to have a really strong qualifying,” Verstappen said, adding that his lowly starting position is “frustrating.”
“My main issue today was a lack of grip, especially in Q3,” he said.
However, Verstappen said he’ll take confidence from their stronger showing in dry conditions, but admitted his lowly grid slot “doesn’t make it easy.”
Weather.com suggests tomorrow’s race will be bone dry, with a 0% chance of rain and a high of 33 degrees Celsius.