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Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix 2024

Verstappen airs Japanese GP concern: 'It's a bit of a question mark'

Max Verstappen will start from pole position at Suzuka but is concerned by his Red Bull's race pace

Verstappen Japan
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen is worried by "a bit of a question mark" surrounding his Red Bull despite clinching the 36th pole position of his F1 career ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.

Three-time F1 champion Verstappen was run close by team-mate Sergio Perez who finished just 0.066s adrift as the Mexican has finally found a degree of confidence again to at least suggest he is in the fight on Sunday against the Dutchman.

On the second row, McLaren's Lando Norris and a resurgent Carlos Sainz in his Ferrari will seek to disrupt the 27th Red Bull front-row lock-out, with Verstappen concerned both drivers may have the edge on him in the race.

"So far, I haven't been happy with my long runs," said Verstappen. "The pace wasn't what I would have liked, so it's a bit of a question mark going into tomorrow because looking at the long run, especially with Ferrari, they look very comfortable.

"Maybe they were not so quick over one lap today, but they were definitely fast in the long run, so we'll have to wait and see how that will evolve tomorrow in the race."

Conceding McLaren is "also quite decent" concerning the long run, Verstappen added: "I'm just not very happy with myself, with how my long run was, so of course everyone else looks a bit better.

"From our side, I have some ideas of what we have to look into to make tomorrow better and that's also what we changed after FP3, so hopefully, that will be better for tomorrow.

"I mean, our race pace is still not too bad, but it's not how I have been feeling in some of the races this year, last year, as comfortable. But hopefully with the changes we have made it will be better."

Verstappen 'not perfect'

In qualifying, Verstappen was never headed, finishing quickest at the end of all three sessions, with his only degree of angst coming in Q3 when Perez delivered a blistering middle sector on his final lap, only to fall just short.

Verstappen still set a stunning time of 1:28.197s, seven-tenths of a second quicker than his lap in his all-conquering RB19 at this circuit less than seven months ago.

The 26-year-old knows he could have gone even quicker. He said: "I started to lose time from Turn 13 onwards.

"It's very sensitive around here with the tyres. As soon as you push maybe a bit too hard in sector one you run out of tyres to the end, and that's what happened to me on my final lap, so that's why I didn't really improve a lot.

"In the last chicane, because the front tyres were giving up, I didn't hit the kerb how it should have been. Let's say that wasn't ideal. Of course, I always want it to be perfect, but that's not possible. Luckily, it was still good enough.

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