Max Verstappen blamed cold tyres for an incident that saw Lando Norris almost collide with his Red Ball car in qualifying at the Japanese Grand Prix.
The Dutchman swerved suddenly to the left approaching the final chicane as Norris was approaching at speed after 130R with both drivers about to start a flying lap.
The late movement meant that Norris had to lurch to the left, going partially off the track to avoid hitting Red Bull. Verstappen has been called to the stewards to explain his actions after taking pole position.
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Speaking after the session, in which he qualified first for Sunday’s race at Suzuka, Verstappen explained the incident from his point of view.
He said: "It was pretty incredible to drive here again, and especially in qualifying. When you’re on low fuel these cars really come alive in the first sector.”
He continued by addressing a missing part at the rear of his vehicle, that may be replaced without penalty before the race on Sunday if the team have a like-for-like replacement.
"I lost a part of a duct in my final lap, so for me that’s why I couldn’t really improve," Verstappen added. "Nevertheless, the first lap was good enough."
Then he turned to the near-miss, saying: "I was just driving quite slow, and I wanted to accelerate but my tyres were quite cold, so then I had a big moment. Then of course Lando was trying to pass me at the same time so he had to avoid me a little bit, but luckily nothing happened.
"It will be interesting first of all to see the weather. Some say it’s going to be dry, some say it’s going to be raining. We just need to see what happens with that. I’m quite confident we have a good car, so I’m excited for tomorrow."
The world champion could face a penalty from the stewards, which could result in a grid penalty. That would hinder his attempt to win his second consecutive Formula 1 championship this weekend, where he will need to not only take first place in the race, but also secure the bonus point for the quickest lap of the day, to ensure the title.
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