Max Verstappen says he took “full risk” on his pole position lap to complete an impressive Red Bull turnaround in qualifying at the Dutch Grand Prix.
The championship leader’s weekend got off to a tough start when Verstappen stopped in FP1 with a gearbox issue, and he was lacking pace in the second sessions as Red Bull still needed to improve its setup. After making a number of changes overnight, Verstappen was still working on the car in final practice but then pipped Charles Leclerc to pole by just 0.021s with his final lap of qualifying.
“It was a special qualifying — especially after yesterday it was really tough and we had to change the car around quite a bit because we didn’t really have any information,” Verstappen said. “So basically this morning was still about learning quite a bit about the car and all about trying to fine-tune it…towards qualifying.
“Yeah we were quick in qualifying, but it never really showed because sometimes I went a bit early, then didn’t go for another run. Q2 was on a scrubbed tire only, so really happy of course with Q3.
“It was really fine margins, and also the last run was a bit compromised with the out lap because of just getting one extra car in front of me. Then I had to slow down a bit too much in the first sector, so when I started my lap I felt like my tires were not really switched on, but I managed to recover a bit in sector two and that was just enough for pole. I knew that I was losing a bit of time there, so just full risk…in Q3.”
Verstappen says the back-to-back pole positions at two very different circuits shows the all-round strength of Red Bull’s package, even if he expects a stern test from Leclerc and Carlos Sainz on Sunday.
“I think we have a complete car. You can see how quickly it changes, though, because in Spa we were dominant; here it looked a bit tricky initially and now it was very close in qualifying. So you can clearly see on the higher downforce tracks we seem to struggle a little bit more to extract the best out of the car, but it’s still a quick car. Also after last night you see that…we made the right choice with the car about how to make it faster.
“I think it will be close [with Ferrari tomorrow], but…for most of the races this year it has been like that, so I’m looking forward to it and hope we can have a good race.”