Red Bull Motorsport Advisor Helmut Marko has explained the problems that prevented another pole position for Max Verstappen at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The F1 championship leader had been on the hunt for his sixth-successive pole but found opposition in Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, who snatched top spot away by 0.003secs with his final attempt.
Verstappen had struggled throughout practice with consistent complaints over rear-end grip, despite a Red Bull upgrade rumoured to be worth two-tenths of pace.
Drivers were also forced to deal with the 'Alternative Tyre Allocation' trial enforced by F1 and Pirelli, with two fewer tyre sets for the weekend and Hards mandated for Q1, Mediums for Q2 and Softs in Q3.
"We brought an update, but the first practice fell [to rain] and we had to deal with the tyre rules," Marko explained to Sky Sport DE.
"As a result, we didn't find the right balance.
"Mercedes was better and I want to congratulate them. It was very exciting and until Turn 14 Max was still two-tenths ahead, but in that, we were struggling with balance problems. In the end, we came up 0.003secs short."
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The Max factor
Lando Norris finished third for McLaren ahead of teammate Oscar Piastri and Alfa Romeo's Zhou Guanyu, who secured a career-best qualifying result.
"It's not just Mercedes, but also Lando Norris was also surprising at this track and even more surprising were the two Alfa Romeos," added Marko.
"There is no question of dullness anymore."
Sergio Perez ended his miserable run of Q1 and Q2 failures but was able to muster only ninth on the grid.
"He had the same problems as Max, but conceded half a second," said Marko.
"That's the Max factor. I hope at the next races, on faster tracks, it will run better again."