Max Verstappen expects to have a stronger car in race trim than the one he took pole position with at the Austrian Grand Prix, while Charles Leclerc looks to end a run of “disaster” races alongside him.
A close qualifying ended with the top three drivers – Verstappen, Leclerc and Carlos Sainz – separated by just 0.082s on Friday, with the championship leader securing pole for Saturday’s Sprint. Verstappen said it was a challenge to put his final lap together after two red flag interruptions caused by crashes for the Mercedes drivers, but despite being fastest in qualifying he believes Red Bull will be even better the two races.
“It was a very long wait between the two runs and that’s never great,” he said. “Once you are in a rhythm it’s nice to just keep on going. Also, the track temperature is dropping, the wind was changing a little bit…
“It was a very tight qualifying and it’s a really challenging track to get everything right. There are not many corners, but the corners you have are quite tricky and easy to make a mistake. Of course I’m very happy with pole but I also know that tomorrow and Sunday you can get the points.
“I think we have a great car. Normally qualifying is not our strongest point so I just hope to have a clean Turn 1, a good getaway and from there onwards anything can happen, but I feel confident with the car we have.”
Leclerc will line up alongside Verstappen after being pipped by 0.039s, but he said he’s keen to end a run of five races without a podium.
“I think all three of us are very, very close so it was an exciting qualifying,” Leclerc said. “On the last lap I struggled a little bit bringing the tires back after such a long time in the pits, but Max was just that little bit quicker so congrats to him and hopefully we’ll have an exciting race tomorrow.
“I just want to have a clean race. Obviously it has been five races that have been a bit of a disaster on my side, but I just hope that everything will go clean and we can finally score the points that we deserve.”