Verstappen philosophical after Leclerc spin costs him shot at Silverstone pole
Max Verstappen looked borderline untouchable throughout most of a sodden qualifying session at the British Grand Prix. But a spin from rival Charles Leclerc on the Monegasque’s final flying lap in Q3 saw Verstappen forced to settle for a philosophical P2, behind maiden pole-winner Carlos Sainz.
No driver could get within four-tenths of Verstappen through the opening two segments of qualifying, the Dutchman in scintillating form after the heavens had opened at Silverstone 10 minutes ahead of the session start.
But a spin from Verstappen on his first flying lap proven an ill portent, with provisional pole-sitter Verstappen then forced to lift off the throttle on his final lap when Leclerc spun in front on him – as Sainz came from nowhere to claim his maiden pole position, leaving Verstappen second.
“I think it was a good qualifying,” said Verstappen. “The car was working really well, I felt comfortable. Just in Q3, it can be a little bit of a lottery, and I had a yellow flag on my final lap, so I had to back out of it a bit in the final corners, which at the end cost me pole.
“But these things can happen. In the wet especially, everything needs to work well for you and it didn’t for me in the final lap. But overall our car is very good in dry and wet conditions so that’s also I think really important for tomorrow… Anything is possible for tomorrow.”
Asked to comment on the first pole of his former Toro Rosso team mate Sainz, meanwhile, Verstappen replied generously: “It was good from Carlos, I think he had also a very solid qualifying. You can see it’s all the time very close between all of us up front, so we’re going to give it a good go and hopefully we can finish ahead.”
Verstappen was backed up by Sergio Perez in P4, as Mercedes’ expected renaissance didn’t quite materialise, Lewis Hamilton P5 as George Russell took P8. But while Perez too was hindered by Leclerc’s spin, he was also confident for the race.
“It wasn’t ideal, but on the other hand, it wasn’t too disappointing in a way towards the end,” said Perez. “I had Charles [spinning] right ahead of me, so my last two laps were not ideal, maybe there was a bit more in it, but P4, we can fight from there… and hopefully tomorrow in the race, we’re able to be a lot more competitive.”
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, meanwhile, revealed his shock that Verstappen had still managed to set a competitive time on the lap where he spun in Q3, saying: “He did a 180 and he only lost two seconds as he crossed the line, that was the ridiculous thing about it… It wasn’t part of the plan but Max likes to find the limit. It was just a shame he didn’t get that last lap but to still end up on the front row, after a tricky session like that, is a good place to be.”
Red Bull now go in search of their first British Grand Prix win since Mark Webber’s triumph a decade ago – while Verstappen will look to emulate his 70th Anniversary Grand Prix Silverstone win from 2020.