Red Bull ace Max Verstappen thinks he could have “easily been P3” on Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix grid, had he not suffered “a massive lock-up” on his final Q3 attempt.

Having set strong lap times in the first two segments of qualifying, the Dutchman looks on course for at least a second-row slot, but he was only fifth fastest after a small mistake on his first flyer in the last part of the session.

Vestappen remained confident of edging his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo and the Ferraris but another error on his second run sent him off track, with the 19-year-old eventually slipping down to sixth.

“Q1 and Q2 were still very good with no issues,” Verstappen said. “But then in Q3 on my first run I locked a front in Turn 11 and went wide and lost 0.2s compared to my previous run.

“But it was still looking good and I was only 0.15s off P3. Then on my second run I improved again in sector one and in Turns 8 and 9 I was 0.2s up on my lap time, so that was very positive.

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“Then I was like ‘if I just do a decent Turn 11 then that’s another two tenths and it’s all looking good’. But then I had a massive lock-up into 11 with the outside wheel and went even wider.

“That was a shame because it could have easily been P3 today, but unfortunately in Q3 I just couldn’t find the right feeling under braking for Turn 11.

“It’s not a great starting position that I’m at, but there are still a lot of chances to go forward. We are starting different tyres, so hopefully in the first stint I can go longer together with Daniel and then we will see what happens.”

Both Red Bulls are indeed set to start Sunday’s race on the red-marked supersoft tyre when all the other cars featuring in the top 10 will be on the ultrasoft tyre.

Verstappen hopes this give him an edge in the opening stint, provided that he manages to hold his ground off the line.

“I’ve got the Ferraris in front of me anyway, so they will be ahead I guess because they are normally very good at the start, and then pace of the cars behind is quite a bit slower. I think the most important thing is to keep position at the start and then try to go forward.”

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