Verstappen 'secretly hoped' for pole in Mexico
On Friday he touted Ferrari as runaway favourites for pole, saying the Scuderia were 'miles ahead' in terms of outright pace. But after beating the red cars to take a stunning pole in Mexican GP qualifying, Max Verstappen revealed he'd been privately hoping Red Bull would be in the fight all along...
“Secretly, you always hope and always keep pushing and try to find the right balance in the car, and in Q3 that came together,” revealed Verstappen after securing his second career pole, ahead of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel.
Though he's won the last two races in Mexico, it was an unexpected triumph for Verstappen, given that Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton said that the Ferraris had a ‘massive’ pace advantage on Friday, and Verstappen said he was only focusing on the RB15's race pace after splitting the Ferraris in FP2.
Max has been on fire all day and done a phenomenal job
He called it an “interesting day” as Red Bull kept their cards close to their chest just hours before qualifying, Verstappen having finished sixth and his team mate Albon eighth in FP3, adding: "of course, to come out on top was incredible."
“The last few races we knew Ferrari were going to be really quick on the straight but for us to come back like this and take pole position like this – a big thank you to the team. They kept pushing very hard and bringing new parts to the car and it showed today that we are very quick.”
A small caveat, however, was that Valtteri Bottas's crash brought out a yellow flag just as Verstappen was finishing his final run that yielded a lap of 1m 14.758s – shaving just 0.001s off former team mate Daniel Ricciardo's 2018 pole time for a new track record.
But Team Principal Christian Horner counted any suggestions his driver had acted incorrectly by not slowing.
"There was actually no yellow board or anything there for that last run, so good job we got the first run in," he explained.
"Max has been on fire all day and done a phenomenal job, really pleased with that. Alex [Albon], really close as well, first time here. I think [it was] a really positive qualifying from him as well."
The focus now for Verstappen - who was P2 on the grid in Mexico last year - will be on making it through Turn 1 on Sunday unscathed, having been taken out in Japan by fellow front row starter Leclerc.
“Yeah, it will be a bit different for me, starting first instead of second on this track,” he said, “but we’re going to give it all and we have a good race car anyway so even if something happens and we lose a position I think we are still fine.”