The Red Bull driver experimented with a different approach to his final run in Q3 to get more heat into his tyres, as he aimed to hold on to the top spot he had secured earlier after the first runs.
But the plan did not work as Verstappen struggled for grip on his last effort, opening the door for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to take a surprise pole position.
With teams having had just a single practice session before qualifying, they have been left facing much greater uncertainty about the behaviour of tyres.
And it was attempting to unlock an extra edge by being more aggressive on the out-lap that ultimately backfired for the Dutchman as he was pipped to leave himself second on the grid.
Asked by Motorsport.com to explain the thinking behind the change of approach, Verstappen said: “I was just trying to put a bit more temperature in them [the tyres].
“It’s just after FP1, I think sometimes you’re not fully understanding what you want to do in qualifying. The first one was good, but it was still not perfect. So we tried, and I mean, it could have worked and then it looks amazing.
“It’s a bit like what happened also in Australia. And this time I guess it didn’t work. But it’s not the end of the world.”
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
Verstappen felt that Leclerc’s pole position did not come totally out of the blue, as he pointed out that Ferrari has shown itself to be pretty strong on single qualifying laps so far.
“If you look at all the qualifying, I think in general it’s been quite close in the first three rounds,” he said.
“We have a really good race car, I think, but it’s never really been let’s say, super dominant over one lap. I don’t know why that is.
“It was the same last year, of course. It was also a bit down to being overweight. But then at one point we started to trim that down and it was still not our, let’s say, best day on the Saturday.
“Sometimes it is just the way the car works, but we all know that the points are on Sunday. So I don’t mind if it’s a little bit slow on Saturday and quick on Sunday.”
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