Max Verstappen says his hopes for pole position at the British Grand Prix were dashed in Q1 after a brush with the gravel left his car with a damaged floor, hindering his performance throughout qualifying.

The Red Bull driver could only manage P4 in the session’s top-ten shootout, 0.384s behind Mercedes poleman George Russell, while Lewis Hamilton and McLaren’s Lando Norris also preceded the Dutchman.

While Q3 was run in dry conditions, Q1 was impacted by intermittent rain showers, making track conditions treacherous, which led to Verstappen’s off-track excursion at the exit of Copse and to the Rb20’s damaged floor.

“Yeah, from Q1, that off, it was just super unlucky,” Verstappen said.

“I came out of [Turn] 7, heading towards Copse, and it started to rain, so I knew that the people in front of me didn’t have that rain patch, and of course they were on slicks, and I knew in Q1 we needed that slick lap in, because you never know if it’s going to rain more and the session is over.

“Naturally of course, I tried to keep the speed up. I did slow down knowing it was raining on my visor, but it still snapped on me, and then I had to keep it out of the wall going off-line.

“But then I had to take the gravel which ripped the floor apart.”

Verstappen acknowledged the valiant effort by his team to repair the damage and optimize his car’s balance, but the damage was significant, with an estimated 100 points of downforce missing stripped from the RB20.

“Missed quite a few bits on the car, even though I do think the team did a great job trying to recover some of the bits and tried to optimize the balance front to rear.

“But yeah, that basically ruined our qualifying. I was happy to be in Q3 already with the damage that we had. And to be P4 is probably a bit of a positive surprise.”

Fortunately, Verstappen will have a new floor for Sunday’s race, keeping his chances of a podium intact.

But with McLaren and Mercedes looking very strong, the battle for the top three at Silverstone promises to be a thrilling three-way fight between the leading teams.

“I hope it can be an exciting race,” Verstappen said.

“Now we are probably a bit more on the attack, instead of starting first or second, but that’s fine.
“The people around me, we’re all very even on pace I guess.

“Naturally I do think McLaren is always very quick in the race and looking after their tyres. But I hope we can be in that mix, and make it difficult.”

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