Verstappen pleased with pole after Friday woes

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen was pleased to take pole for the Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix after battling through a difficult Friday.

The Red Bull driver ground to a halt early in Free Practice 1 with a transmission issue in the car which saw him miss much of the opening hour of running.

Hasty work in order to have the car ready in time for Free Practice 2 meant there were compromises made, with final set-up work still being completed on Saturday morning.

“It was special qualifying, especially after yesterday, it was really tough,” Verstappen said after taking pole for his home grand prix.

“We had to change the car around quite a bit because we didn’t really have any information.

“Basically, this morning was still about learning quite a bit of the car, and all about trying to fine-tune it a bit towards qualifying.

“We had to rush the car in FP2, some things were not as we expected them to be in terms of set-up, so that didn’t help,” he added.

“That’s why FP2 was also not really representative at the end.”

The championship leader was only eighth-fastest in Friday’s second session, 0.7s away from the pace set by title rival Charles Leclerc.

He bounced back to third best on Saturday, ending Free Practice 3 just 0.161s down on Leclerc before claiming pole by just 0.021s.

Leclerc will line up second with his Ferrari team-mate, Carlos Sainz, third; the top three covered by less than a 0.1s.

“The last run was a bit compromised with the out lap because of just getting one extra car in front of me,” Verstappen explained.

“Then I had slowed down a bit too much in the first sector, so when I started my lap I felt like the tyres were not really switched on.

“But I managed to recover a bit in Sector 2, and that was just enough for the pole.”

Though the weekend had a compromised start, Verstappen believes he has a package capable of performing well in Sunday’s race.

“I think we have a complete car,” he said.

“I mean, you can see how quickly it changes though because I mean in Spa-Francorchamps we were dominant; here it looked a bit tricky initially and now it was very close in qualifying.

“So you can clearly see on the high downforce tracks we seem to struggle a little bit more to extract the best out of the car, but it’s still a quick car.

“And also after last night [Friday], you see that the whole factory and also here at the track, we made the right choice with the car on how to make it faster.”

With seemingly little between Red Bull and Ferrari this weekend, Verstappen predicts a tight race on Sunday.

“For most of the races this year it has been like that, so I’m looking forward to it.

“I hope that we we can have a good race.

“I did a long run this morning and it looked good, so I was happy with the car,” he added.

“And with the tyres, I think we have an extra new set [of softs] for tomorrow for my car.

“I don’t know how we look compared to Ferrari, but gives us a few more options for ourselves for tomorrow.”

The Dutch Grand Prix gets underway at 23:00 AEST this evening.

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