Azerbaijan GP: Max Verstappen to start behind Lewis Hamilton after ‘stupid’ and ‘annoying’ qualifying

Max Verstappen said his Azerbaijan GP qualifying was “frustrating” and “really annoying” as the Red Bull championship leader bemoaned missing out on pole position and finishing behind Lewis Hamilton.

Verstappen will line up third on the grid for Sunday’s race, with his crucial Q3 blighted by a lack of straight-line speed compared to pole-sitter Charles Leclerc and Hamilton – and red flags at the end of qualifying when it looked like the Dutchman may have improved.

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“Ah, more of this? It’s so painful man, these stupid red flags in Q3,” said Verstappen on team radio after Yuki Tsunoda caused the fourth red flag of the session in the closing stages. Verstappen was also denied a final lap when vying for pole at the last Grand Prix in Monaco.

“It was just a stupid qualifying to be honest, but it is what it is,” Verstappen said afterwards.

“Everything was working out fine. Then all this s*** is all the time happening in Q3…it’s just unfortunate.

“But it’s a street circuit so these things can happen.”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner felt he would have had a shot at pole.

“It would have been very, very tight,” Horner told Sky F1. “Max was already up on the lap after three corners and he was in a good bit of track position. Ifs, buts and maybes…”

Given Red Bull’s superiority over Mercedes heading into Saturday’s shootout, the fact Hamilton – who Verstappen leads by four points in the championship – will start ahead of Verstappen in the race is one of the big Baku surprises.

Both Hamilton and Leclerc were much faster than Verstappen in the final sector, which features the longest straight on the F1 calendar and gives drivers the chance for a ‘tow’. Which the top two benefitted from.

“We had a good car, it’s just frustrating all the time what happens in Q3 with these red flags,” Verstappen added to Sky F1.

“Charles had a good tow, Lewis had a good tow to the line, with this long straight around here it’s just really annoying.

“Still third, could have been worse could have been better. It’s OK, we have a good race car and let us see what we can do tomorrow.”

Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez will line up sixth.

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