Max Verstappen accuses rivals of breaking 'gentleman's agreement'

SHANGHAI, China -- Max Verstappen was left fuming after hitting traffic late in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix and missing out on a final flying lap run.

The Dutchman had posted a time that was good enough for provisional P4 on the grid during the first runs in Q3, but found himself surrounded by cars when Red Bull sent him back out in the final minutes of the session. As a result, he was unable to make it to the start line before the clock ticked down to zero, meaning he missed out on a final qualifying lap.

"They are such [bleeped out], honestly," Verstappen shouted over the team radio as he returned to the pits. "Everyone is just lining up and they are f------ it up. I'm just trying to be nice, but everyone is f------ it up."

Verstappen was more diplomatic after he had hopped out of his car, insisting there's an unwritten rule amongst drivers when preparing for a qualifying lap.

"I was just staying behind the Ferrari [of Sebastian Vettel] because with two corners to go, it's basically like a kind of a gentleman's agreement that you stay behind," Verstappen said. "This time it caught me out. I'm not happy about it, but it will swing around and it will come back onto others. Now we just have to do some more overtaking.

"I think everybody just went a bit too late. Even if I would have gone, the cars behind me wouldn't have made it. I could start my lap behind them, but then your lap is ruined. You need at least four, five seconds because you get disturbed by the dirty air."

When asked if he could have passed the drivers in front of him to gain track position, Verstappen said: "Yeah, I could have overtaken, but it's just not what you do in qualifying. I don't want to be an a------ doing that."

Compounding Verstappen's misery was the fact Ferrari's Charles Leclerc improved on his second lap, relegating the 21-year-old to fifth on the grid. Had he not encountered the traffic, Verstappen was confident he could have challenged the Ferraris for a second row start.

"It's really annoying because we could have fought for third today," Verstappen said.

Verstappen wasn't the only driver to miss out on a final run in Q3. Teammate Pierre Gasly also failed to cross the line in time, as did Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean.

"It was pretty messy. At the end of the lap everyone was trying to get started, but also had somebody in front," Magnussen said after the session. "So it ended up being too much and cost a few guys the lap.

"Everyone also went out at exact same time. We were following each other and towards the end of the lap you didn't know whether to try and overtake people. I don't want to screw anyone. I don't see any point in that. I would never try to screw anyone just for the hell of it."

Grosjean added: "That's the problem when you are furthest away from the leaders. You don't want to be the first one, so you wait for the first cars to come, but everyone does the same."