Max Verstappen feels he has made the United States Grand Prix “a bit more fun” after his marginal mistake in qualifying on Friday resulted in his pole-sitting lap being deleted.
The three-time F1 champion, who can equal his own record set last season with a 15th victory of the campaign on Sunday, made life slightly more tricky for himself as he starts from sixth on the Circuit of the Americas grid.
In what was a tight qualifying session, Verstappen appeared to have ousted Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc from top spot by just 0.005secs, only for the lap to be deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 19.
At that stage so late in the lap, Verstappen was attempting to atone for an error through the first corner where he ran wide of the apex in attempting to turn in.
“I knew in [Turn] 19 that it was going to be a close call,” said Verstappen reflecting on his final lap. “I had a little mistake in Turn 1, so I had to really push for it in the rest of the lap. It’s fine margins.
“Honestly, I didn’t even understeer. I just tried to really maximise the corner and I misjudged it by a little bit. It’s very fine margins when you’re pushing to the limit.
“Of course, it’s a bit unfortunate but it makes Sunday also a bit more fun.”
The difficulty for Verstappen in starting sixth is that he will likely find himself in a pack through what is one of the most thrilling opening corners on any track, particularly at the start of a race.
Emerging through the sharp left-hander after an uphill run off the line, every driver knows the difficulties posed by Turn 1.
Verstappen, aiming for a third consecutive victory at COTA, appreciates his starting position is “probably not ideal”.
He added: “But I’ve also started further back. It’s all about if you have a good pace, you will pass, you will move forward. So just keep an eye on it.
“Of course, we want to win. For sure (qualifying) was not ideal.
“But it’s still a long race where a lot of things we can do better – and have a bit of fun out there as well.”