Max Verstappen believes that he can still finish inside the top ten at tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix despite dropping out in the second stage of qualifying on Saturday.
Verstappen, 17, became the youngest points scorer in the history of Formula 1 at the Malaysian Grand Prix two weeks ago, finishing the race in seventh place.
However, he was unable to continue this good form in qualifying at the Shanghai International Circuit, finishing 13th in Q2 ahead of Toro Rosso teammate Carlos Sainz Jr.
Nevertheless, the Dutchman was pleased with his performance on Saturday, believing that the team has made a step forwards with the car over the weekend.
“I’m happy with how the car has improved compared to yesterday,” Verstappen said. “In FP3 we looked stronger and even though this is a very tricky track, I kept working to find the right balance and finally I found it just in time for the qualifying session.
“Of course, my 13th position doesn’t show exactly where we should have been, as I think Q3 was possible for me today, but a lock-up at turn six prevented me from it.
“We now have a bit more work to do for tomorrow, but I think we can be strong. We have a good race pace so I’m confident we will be able to fight for points again.”
Sainz shared his teammate’s optimism, believing that the race pace of the STR10 car should allow him to fight for points in the race on Sunday.
“This morning in FP3 we made a step forward in terms of performance and the car felt better, but when we went into qualy this afternoon we didn’t manage to find that extra bit,” Sainz said.
“By missing out on two or three tenths we didn’t get into Q3 and we’re not in the best position for tomorrow.
“However, we know that we have a decent pace on long runs and we showed some good consistency yesterday, so to finish in the top ten is still our main target.”
The Chinese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30a ET on Sunday.