Max Verstappen has suggested a Red Bull experiment on his final out-lap of qualifying could have cost him pole position for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The Dutchman will start second for Sunday’s main event after trailing Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in a dramatic qualifying session that included a Q1 stage that lasted 46 minutes following two red flags caused by crashes for Pierre Gasly and Nyck de Vries. Last year’s title rivals were locked on identical lap times after the first run of Q3 but Leclerc’s effort of 1:40.203 saw the Monégasque take pole by 0.188secs from Verstappen. “It is always tough around here to put a whole lap together,” said Verstappen. “Also, on the second run, we tried something different on the out-lap which maybe wasn’t ideal for the lap time at the end. “But around here it is really hard. In Q3, you are on the limit and trying to make everything perfect is not the easiest. But nevertheless, we are P2, we know we have a very good race car so all in all, it is not bad. “Of course, you want to start ahead but we will have to pass one car.” Sprint focus Drivers will return to the circuit on Saturday to be immediately faced with a shortened version of qualifying in order to set the grid for the 100km sprint. On his chances of turning around the form from Friday, Verstappen explained: “Looking forward to see what we can do there, maybe we can find a few things to do better but it is all about keeping it clean. “It is super-easy around here to make a mistake so that is definitely something we don’t want to do and then we will see what happens.”

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