Verstappen’s qualifying ‘ruined’ by Bottas, starts ninth in Baku

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Max Verstappen blamed Valtteri Bottas for ruining his qualifying attempt for the European Grand Prix on Saturday in Baku.

Verstappen and Bottas almost collided during Q3 at the first corner before swapping track position back and forth.

The end result was that Verstappen could only qualify ninth thanks to a late run after a red flag stoppage, leaving him disappointed.

“I think today we could have been P3. When the red flag came out I was already five-tenths up on my lap from Q2 so a 1:43.9 was in sight, easily,” Verstappen said.

“It’s just unfortunate I got ruined by Bottas in Q2, and then after the red flag in Q3 with two minutes to go, he did exactly the same thing, so again, very unfortunate, but the pace is there.

“I don’t need to have a chat, I’ll just focus on tomorrow. We know from GP2 there will be a lot of action and overtaking, so it will be a very interesting race for sure.”

“Max endured a much more frustrating Q3, having twice encountered Valtteri Bottas at turn one who inexplicably decided to overtake him up the inside compromising both of their laps, on the first and second run,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said.

“Unfortunately that has left him ninth on the grid but at this circuit it looks like overtaking is possible and it’s sure to be an action-filled grand prix tomorrow.”

Bottas ultimately qualified eighth for Williams, complaining of traffic in Q3.

“I think we were unlucky today. Missing FP3 definitely made qualifying more difficult,” Bottas admitted, having been sidelined after a drain cover damaged his car.

“It’s hard to say how much it affected us, but I don’t think our pace was too bad. I didn’t put a perfect lap together in Q1 or Q2, so I think to get through how we did shows that we had good pace.

“Q3 was tough because I was heavily affected by traffic on both of my runs and I think there was definitely about half a second to be found in the car.

“For tomorrow, we have a good race pace so I’m sure we can have a good day.”

The European Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET on Sunday.