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‘It’s definitely all to play for tomorrow’ says Verstappen despite losing out to Norris in Barcelona pole scrap

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 22: 2nd placed qualifier Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red

Max Verstappen may have been beaten to pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix by Lando Norris. But the Red Bull driver was still feeling very much in the mix as he looked ahead to Sunday’s race – while team mate Sergio Perez is set to start a penalised P11 after another difficult qualifying for the Mexican.

Having failed to top any practice session in Barcelona after struggling to find a comfortable balance in his RB20, Verstappen looked on better form going into qualifying, as he topped Q2 before looking punchy in Q3.

READ MORE: Norris beats Verstappen to pole in thrilling Spanish GP qualifying session

But after losing out to McLaren’s Lando Norris by just 0.020s in the final Q3 runs – the McLaren driver securing his second career pole position – a philosophical Verstappen was left to reflect on what was nonetheless a positive turnaround.

“I think in qualifying it was all coming together a bit nicer [than in practice],” said Verstappen. “The whole weekend we’ve been trying to find a bit of a connected balance, because in all the practice sessions, it was very difficult.

Qualifying Highlights: 2024 Spanish Grand Prix

“So I was quite happy in qualifying; even in Q3 I got a nice little tow from Checo [Perez] to Turn 1 to really extract everything we could, but unfortunately it was just not enough, but that’s how it goes sometimes. I think overall we can still be very happy with this performance in qualifying. It’s definitely all to play for tomorrow.”

FACTS AND STATS: Gasly bags his best qualifying of the year as Ocon makes Q3 for first time since Austin

Verstappen has now failed to take pole position since Imola, having scored the first seven poles of the 2024 season. Asked if he preferred having an easy time of it in qualifying or being in a close fight with his rivals, Verstappen replied: “At the end of the day, they’re never really easy poles, because you’re always in a battle with yourself.

“But of course now it’s with more teams, and I think that’s good for Formula 1 in general, and of course when it’s always that close for a pole position, I think that’s always great.”

Perez admits he ‘didn’t put it together when it mattered in Q3’

It was another difficult performance for Sergio Perez, meanwhile, who with a three-place grid penalty carried over from Canada will make his fourth consecutive start outside the top 10, lining up in P11 for Sunday’s race – Perez at least marking his first Q3 appearance since Miami.

“It was quite a tricky one,” said the Mexican, whose contract was extended at Red Bull in the run-up to the Canadian Grand Prix. “We did struggle initially. We burned through the tyres a little bit too quick and unfortunately we just didn’t put it together when it mattered, which was in Q3 – my lap wasn’t as clean as I needed it to be on that run, so unfortunately, just not enough of a rhythm, of a pace.

AS IT HAPPENED: Follow all the action from qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix

“We’re starting P11, so it’s going to be a tricky race from there, but with the penalty, being P11 is quite a difficult one,” he added. “Definitely we will try and we will push really hard to get through. Ideally if we’re able to save a couple of points, it will be a tremendous job from the whole team.”

Red Bull head the constructors’ fight heading into Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix, the team 49 points clear of closest rivals Ferrari.

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