Max Verstappen says he had to “dig deep” to beat Lewis Hamilton to pole position at the United States Grand Prix.
Sergio Perez had been on provisional pole after the first Q3 attempts but Hamilton duly improved to sit first after his final run, with the two Red Bull drivers still to finish their laps and light rain falling. Despite the conditions, Verstappen beat his title rival to take pole and says it took a lot for him to find the required performance to get ahead of the Mercedes.
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“It was a little bit up and down, I would say,” Verstappen said. “Just getting to the limit of the car felt a little bit more difficult for me this whole weekend so far, to try and get that last bit out of it. So even in qualifying I had to work up to it.
“On the mediums actually I felt really good. I think in Q2 that was a good lap and it seemed like it suited me a bit more in terms of driving. Then the first one in Q3 again, it wasn’t perfect. I just couldn’t get the same out of it, in terms of feeling compared to Q2.
“So then I had to dig deep in Q3 run two and then it even started spitting a little bit on your visor in the last sector, so it wasn’t ideal. But to be on pole of course is great, especially in a weekend so far when it was a bit more difficult to find that last bit.”
Given the expectation that Mercedes would have the upper hand in Austin, Verstappen admits he wasn’t expecting to be on pole but points to Red Bull’s relative struggles in Turkey as proof neither team can be confident heading into specific weekends.
“Yeah, maybe a tiny bit of a surprise but you can clearly see it has been swinging a bit throughout the whole season. Luckily it’s still doing that, and we’ll see. I’m happy with the performance we’ve had today and we’ll find out tomorrow in the race, it’s of course a different story.
“Then we’ll move on to the next race and that can maybe again be a different story, because you can maybe look like favorites going in to the weekend but you still need to pay attention to every single detail to try and make it work.
“It’s so closely matched that if you maybe miss one tiny detail or you just can’t bring it together for whatever reason, you miss out. That’s what happened to us for example in Turkey.”