Qualifying in Suzuka delivered a rare dead heat to Aston Martin Red Bull Racing with Max Verstappen and Alex Albon clocking in P5 and P5 at the end of Q3 but with the exact same time.
However, Verstappen will line up ahead of his teammate on this afternoon’s grid, having achieved his time first, but the performance underlined Albon’s effort at a track where he has never raced before.
The British-Thai racer’s opportunity to perfect his knowledge of Suzuka was also hampered by Saturday’s lost day of running, while the fluctuant windy conditions in qualifying were also a handful to deal with.
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“It was a cleaner run in qualifying for me this time so I’m happy with that,” Albon said.
“I don’t know where the time from the cars in the top four came from, they seem to have made a step but personally speaking, I’m happy.
“It’s a nightmare losing yesterday’s track action and the conditions today with the wind aren’t ideal.
“The car is completely different but it’s the same for everyone. You could see the changing wind in Q1 and it was like that every lap so it was sketchy stuff, but that’s the way it is.”
On Verstappen’s side of the garage, the Dutchman suggested that perhaps he’d not been aggressive enough in Q3, but also lamented a lack of a proper slipstream during his runs.
“Qualifying wasn’t amazing and P5 is not what we hoped for, so I’m happy that we have the race straight away now to try and make a good result out of it,” Verstappen said.
“I had a problem with the boost energy in Q2 but that was all fine in Q3.
“I think maybe we were not aggressive enough and it wasn’t ideal not having a slipstream down the straights as we are running so much downforce.
“It’s very windy out there, especially in the second sector and on the main straight but that was the same for everyone so there is nothing to complain about.
“I’m a bit disappointed now but I have confidence that the race can be much better so that is the focus.”