Max Verstappen says he was left with a "terrible" feeling at the wheel of his Red Bull during the final phase of qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, as he struggled to the fourth-fastest time.
Verstappen was outpaced by Ferrari pair Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, and teammate Sergio Perez, in Saturday evening's session at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, finishing almost three-tenths of a second off pole position.
Speaking after the session, Verstappen pointed to tyre preparation issues in the decisive top 10 shootout, having enjoyed more competitive runs in the initial Q1 and Q2 phases.
Verstappen explains his qualifying struggles
"I think in Q1 and Q2, everything was looking [like it was going] quite well," Verstappen explained to Sky Sports F1.
"It was just my first set [of tyres] in Q3 was terrible. I don't know, it was like a completely different feeling with the tyres; they were just moving around a lot more, and so it was really difficult for me to drive.
"When you have that bad of a build up and rhythm, and you go onto your second tyre set... I just didn't really feel comfortable and also, that tyre set, I couldn't really extract [time] like I did in Q1 and Q2.
"On a track where the ambient temperature is coming down and the track temperature is coming down, you should easily improve, but for me, it felt quite like flat, or even worse, throughout qualifying.
"It's the first time I have [experienced] something like that, so it's something I need to look into."
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Praise for Red Bull teammate Perez
Red Bull challenged Ferrari throughout the season-opening weekend in Bahrain, only for both of their cars to retire in the closing stages of the race.
With the field heading straight to Jeddah for round two, Verstappen and Perez are determined to fight back and cut the early points lead that Ferrari - and Leclerc and Sainz - have built in both championships.
While disappointed with his own qualifying session, Verstappen praised Perez for his performance, and hopes the pair can battle with the Ferraris in race-trim.
"I'm complaining [that] I didn't have a good feeling, but the potential of the car is there," added Verstappen.
"Checo did a great job today, so I'm very happy for him, and hopefully we can make it difficult for Ferrari also tomorrow in the race."
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