Max Verstappen could hardly believe his continuing chronic bad luck after being once again hampered by technical problems during qualifying for the United States Grand Prix.
At least this time the problem wasn’t engine related, but was instead a right rear suspension failure on his Red Bull. It appears that the car suffered damage when Verstappen ran wide at turn 15 and caught a sausage kerb at a bad angle.
“I touched the outside kerb and it failed the suspension and took the driveshaft out,” he said afterwards.
“[It’s] a bit weird because before we were always taking that kerb, because it opens the corner a little bit more to make it faster.
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“Those kerbs have been there for like two years now, so it is a bit weird to understand.
“Also everybody else in qualifying took those orange kerbs,” he added. “[But] on our car it failed.
Verstappen managed to return the RB14 to the pit lane. Although team mechanics rushed to see whether the damage could be quickly patched up, he was unable to take part in the rest of qualifying.
It means he will provisionally line up for tomorrow’s race in 13th position on the grid. But that’s assuming that the suspension failure hasn’t caused more serious internal damage to the car that will incur penalties.
“We’ll have a look into it,” he said.
If he’s forced to charge from the back of the grid, it wouldn’t be the first time – in last year’s race he started from 17th and still managed to cross the line in third, although a subsequent post-race penalty dropped him back to fourth.
“I think the pace in the race is always a bit more competitive,” he said. “I hope that we can clear the midfield quite fast like last year and then we can still do a good job.”
His team mate Daniel Ricciardo had a relatively quiet and uncomplicated qualifying session and was fifth fastest by the chequered flag
“In a league of our own but not at the front,” he told Sky Sports F1, having finished behind the Mercedes and Ferrari cars but a long way ahead of the Force India, Renault and Haas mid-fielders.
Ricciardo will actually will start from fourth place on the grid alongside Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, thanks to a three-place penalty dropping Sebastian Vettel to fifth.
“It’s been a while since I got a second row start, so I’ll thank Seb for that – or the stewards, I don’t know,” he quipped. “Obviously we gain a position there.
“Second row puts me there at the start in the mix,” he continued. “Turn 1 is wide and there’s going to be a bit going on I think.
“Just happy to be with my nose there and try and make it happen,” he added. “On the race spec we’ll be closer and if I can get traction on the cars in front I think we can maybe disrupt their tempo a bit.
“It’s going to be probably a little bit hotter tomorrow which might help work the tyres a bit harder,” he mused. “We’ll try and make something happen, put pressure on them.
“Try and send a few missiles tomorrow and see how we go!”
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