Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen getting pole in F1 Brazil GP raised some amusing moments with Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton joining in.
The F1 Brazil GP qualifying was a stellar one for Red Bull’s Verstappen, who secured his second pole of his career, which led an amusing situation in the press conference as vettel and Hamilton rallied on to poke the Dutchman about their straightline advantage.
Verstappen not only got pole but he even topped Q1 and Q2 as well. “I think the last few races have already been quite strong,” he said. “We changed the car a bit and it seemed to work really well and especially in qualifying it really came alive.
“It had really good balance. Already in Q2 it felt really good. The car already in practice sessions was not bad on Friday. I think it improved in qualifying, so normally it should also be better in the race but I guess we have to find out.”
His teammate Alexander Albon though, wasn’t quite so lucky, with him failing to find that last tenths or so to finish sixth, the slowest of the fastest group on the grid. Ferrari were able to replicate their Friday pace, with Vettel only 0.026s behind Verstappen.
The German credited Verstappen and stated that he deserved pole, while also poking him for ‘straightline advantage’ after the Dutchman’s comments in Austin regarding the technical directive set out by the FIA regarding power unit.
“I had a bit of a wobble in the exit of the last corner on the first run but I think Max improved his time, so fair play and I think it’s his pole position,” said Vettel after the qualifying. “I am happy with the front row. The car has been good.
“I think it got better throughout qualifying, which was the target. Max’s second time was a bit far away so I think we have to admit that we got beaten fair and square. It was a bit of a surprise, not to see them that quick but to see them that quick on the straights.
“So, a little bit suspicious. Obviously there’s no progress from one race to another because it’s the same engine I support. I don’t know, I haven’t checked but I don’t think they have introduced a new spec. I think it was a bit of a surprise.
“Usually we’ve seen a lot of qualifying sessions and we were always a bit faster than everyone on the straights, losing a bit in the corners but we were as quick, or Max and Alex were as fast on the straights as us. I don’t know why.
“I don’t think, I mean I know we didn’t do anything different, so.” At the same time, teammate Charles Leclerc struggled in Q3 especially, but less because of the car, and more because of driver error, which he was the first to admit.
“It was not the best qualifying,” said Leclerc. “The team gave me a great car and I believe that the potential was there for us to take pole. I am disappointed about the mistake I made on the last corner of my first lap in Q3, because I lost about three tenths there.
“It doesn’t change too much though because I will be starting from the midfield due to the grid penalty we have received. We completed some high fuel runs this morning to work on our race pace, as this is where we have the most room for improvement.
“It’s good that we qualified on the medium tyres and I hope that we will be able to gain an advantage and pass some of the cars ahead. It won’t be an easy race and I will give the maximum to make up as many places as possible and hopefully fight for a podium.”
Leclerc is to start from 14th after the penalty for new power unit – which is not a Spec 4 from Ferrari. Mercedes, on the other hand, had a mixed-bag result, with Hamilton being in third, while Valtteri Bottas was behind in fifth with Leclerc and Albon.
Hamilton, though, was pleased to be more in the mix, but realised the difficulty of a win from his position, and knew it would be tough to pull off. He was slightly surprised as well with the gains from Honda but wasn’t as direct as Vettel.
“We seemed quite competitive in FP3 and then we seemed to lose going into qualifying, or they gained,” said Hamilton. “I’m very happy that I was able to divide the Ferraris, that’s always a tough challenge. We’ve been down on power.
“Especially compared to the others, we were losing out to Max on the straights by quite a chunk which is where the majority of the time was coming from but just kept chipping away at it. I don’t really know what to say [regarding the gains by Honda].
“I didn’t expect to come here and see Honda on pole because I don’t think in the last race they had a speed deficit to us so. On top of that, they were quickest in the middle sector so they’ve obviously still got the same amount of downforce.
“But obviously [they have] more power this weekend and considering we are at higher altitude, I have no idea where that stuff comes from. Anyways, I absolutely gave everything and I’m glad at the end, my best lap of the session was my last run.”
Here’s how F1 Brazil qualifying panned out
The story was co-written by Duncan Leahy