By Abhishek Takle
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – An angry Max Verstappen let rip at the behaviour of other drivers after missing out on a final flying lap in Chinese Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday.
The 21-year-old Red Bull driver qualified fifth but felt he could have been higher had he not slowed due to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and the two Renaults overtaking as he was teeing up a final effort.
Vettel qualified third, with team mate Charles Leclerc fourth. Mercedes swept the front row with Valtteri Bottas on pole and Lewis Hamilton alongside.
“I was just trying to follow the Ferrari in front of me and trying to be nice. I could also have overtaken him but it’s just not what you do in qualifying,” the Dutchman told reporters after calming down.
He had earlier vented his frustration over the radio with plenty of swearing.
“This time it caught me out. So of course I’m not happy about that but it will swing around and it will come back to others as well sometimes,” he added.
“It’s annoying because we could have fought for third today but now we just have to do some more overtaking.”
Red Bull boss Christian Horner said it had been an unfortunate outcome.
“Max was in a good position and then Sebastian passed him around the outside and then he hung back not to get into Sebastian’s dirty air and the Renaults passed him and he hung back again,” he told Sky Sports television.
“Unfortunately, the clock ticking down the way it was, he didn’t make it to the line in time. It was a shame because it would have been a good opportunity to try and improve there. I think we could have made the second row today.”
Vettel, a four times champion with Red Bull, defended his behaviour and said it had been a question of traffic and everyone leaving at the same time for the same spot.
“If you’re at the end of the train, which I was, then it was quite difficult. And when the team told me we only have 10 seconds margin to cross the line in time to make another attempt, I had to think of something.
“I do not know if others were not told. If everyone would have sped up the way I did, then we would have all made it. But I obviously prioritised to make the lap. It felt like others were not aware,” said the German.
(Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)