F1: Verstappen and Hamilton verbally spar
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Max Verstappen noted how Sergio Perez’s qualifying disappointment in Qatar was proof of just how far behind Red Bull are from Mercedes this weekend. The Qatar Grand Prix was relatively unknown for F1 teams heading into this weekend with the race making its debut on the F1 calendar.
All teams knew that it was going to be a fast track with little room for error and Mercedes have shown in recent weeks that they have the straight-line speed.
That was evident in free practice as Valtteri Bottas topped the timesheets in FP2 and FP3.
Verstappen was keeping track of his rivals, although Lewis Hamilton had initially been struggling to find the pace.
It all come together for the seven-time world champion in qualifying though as he set the pace early on.
With things tight at the top end of both championships, Red Bull and Mercedes can ill afford any slip ups in the final three race weekends.
But disaster struck for Red Bull after Perez surprisingly missed out on a place in Q3.
That put even more impetus on Verstappen to push his car ahead of the two Mercedes.
Hamilton though managed to find incredible pace in his second run to finish nearly half a second ahead of Verstappen to take pole.
The Dutchman managed to pip Bottas to sit on the second row, but his team-mate will start back in 11th.
And Verstappen was left feeling powerless heading into Sunday’s race with Perez’s qualifying performance evident of just how much they’re struggling.
“[We were just] lacking a bit of pace,” he said.
“It’s been a bit more tricky for us again in qualifying because Checo isn’t even in Q3 so it just shows we are definitely struggling a bit more than normal.
“Nevertheless it’s still second so all to play for but of course I wish we could have had more.”
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