Last lap spin didn’t cost me pole, admits Verstappen
A final flying lap error from Max Verstappen in qualifying for the Styrian Grand Prix saw him miss out on the possibility of taking Red Bull’s first ever pole position at their home track. But according to Verstappen, even without the mistake, his time wouldn’t have been enough to have stopped the rampaging Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton.
Having already claimed provisional P2, Verstappen was rounding Turn 9 on his final Q3 effort when a car on the apex of the corner appeared to catch him out, with Verstappen spinning his Red Bull RB16 down into the Turn 10 run-off – fortunately without any damage – before settling for second spot on the grid, ahead of the McLaren of Carlos Sainz.
But despite having set personal best sectors before the spin on that final run, Verstappen felt that Hamilton – who ended up posting a time 1.216s faster than the Dutchman, with a lap the six-time champion heralded as “close to perfect” – would have beaten him, mistake or not.
“It was very tricky out there, and of course the last lap would have been better,” said Verstappen. “I don’t think it was enough to beat Lewis, but the pace overall was quite good.
“I think overall it was a good qualifying,” he added, “but in Q3 it was raining a lot more and it seemed like [the car] was struggling a bit more in the really wet conditions, so it was just aquaplaning a lot more and I couldn’t really put the power down in some combined corners.
“It was not very enjoyable out there... not easy. I tried to be a bit close to the guy ahead to stay in his tracks and try and have a little bit less water. But anyway, P2 is still good.”
With a session-topping time in FP2 under his belt, Verstappen has been happier with his car's pace in the build up to the Styrian Grand Prix compared to the Austrian Grand Prix, held last Sunday at the same track.
And if this Sunday’s race is held in the dry, the Dutchman says he has a good chance of taking the fight to Hamilton, as he chases down his third victory at the Red Bull Ring.
“I think in the dry we can have a good shot at it,” said Verstappen. “We’ll see how it’s going to go. I think the car in general is better than last week so looking forward to that.”
Meanwhile, having been ahead of his team mate with four minutes to go in Q3, Alex Albon will start the Styrian GP in P6, with the Thai driver accepting fault for a mistake on his final flying lap in qualifying.