Verstappen endures rare bad day but it’s worse for Red Bull teammate Perez

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands steers his car during the qualifying session ahead of the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix at the Monaco racetrack, in Monaco, Saturday, May 25, 2024. (Luca Bruno/AP)

MONACO — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen endured a rare bad day in Formula 1 on Saturday, qualifying only sixth for the Monaco Grand Prix on a track notoriously hard to overtake on.

A day after saying his car was “jumping like a kangaroo” during practice, the three-time world champion was no happier with how it felt going around Monaco’s tight and winding 3.3-kilometre (two-mile) street circuit.

“(It) has been very difficult over the curves and bumps so has not been good to drive on this kind of track,” Verstappen said after his run of eight straight F1 poles came to an end.

“The ride of the car is not good and it has been bouncing around a lot, which makes it really tricky. We have tried everything to solve the issue, but I still felt like I was often close to going into the wall.”

Verstappen has won five of seven races this season and had taken every pole until Saturday.

But the warning signs were already there, as he failed to lead any of the three practices and finished one as low as 11th.

“It has not been a good weekend for the team in general,” he said. “Nothing has helped optimise the performance of the car.”

Verstappen won Monaco from pole last year, but he knows that clinching a 60th career victory from so far back is a tall order even with such a dominant car.

“We are not expecting miracles,” he said.

Red Bull has become used to crushing the competition over the past two seasons. Verstappen and Perez combined to win 21 of 22 races last year, so this was a rare bad day.

Perez fared even worse and starts from 18th on the grid.

“Today was a complete disaster, we didn’t get into the rhythm and we didn’t have the pace,” Perez said. “On my final lap when things were looking good, I came to turns six and seven, they were full of traffic. Then there were some stickers or something laid down on the track.”

It’s rare enough to beat Red Bull these days; so perhaps it’s a good sign when the team is looking hopefully at the weather charts.

“Unless there is some rain tomorrow, we cannot hope for much,” Perez said. “There is nearly zero chance to overtake around here.”

That makes Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc the favourite as he goes from pole on Sunday.

If Verstappen does not win, it will be his third time this season without a victory — as many as all of last year.

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