Verstappen delivered one of Monaco’s all-time great laps – Horner
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Max Verstappen delivered one of the all-time great laps in Monaco’s 80-year history with his qualifying performance on Saturday.
In what was a qualifying shoot-out that will long be remembered, Verstappen conjured an electrifying performance at the death to oust Fernando Alonso from pole position and to knock home favourite Charles Leclerc off the front row.
What was all the more remarkable about Verstappen’s performance was that he was two-tenths of a second down on Alonso after the first two sectors, yet somehow managed to claw back the deficit and edge ahead by 0.084s when he crossed the line.
Horner has described it as “the completion of the lap” in the Saudi Arabian GP almost two years ago when Verstappen was set to deliver a pole lap from the Gods, only to crash into a wall at the final corner.
“I think he did 70 percent of the job (in winning the race) in sector three,” assessed Horner. “That lap, I think it’ll go down as one of the all-time great laps in Monaco, one of the best of his career. It was stunning.
“Obviously, I follow the live telemetry, and in sector one, he’d matched his best, then in sector two around Loews Hairpin he was starting to find a bit of time. He then had very good (Turns) 10 and 11 through the chicane, so his middle sector was already building.
“And then, as he came into the Swimming Pool (complex), that’s where he lit it up, at a part (of the circuit) where he crashed a few years ago, a corner which claims most of them.
“At Rascasse, I think he touched every barrier, even coming out of the final turn onto the straight. You could see how wired he was after that. It was pin it or bin it, for sure. It was absolutely stunning.”
Verstappen out of the top drawer
In securing pole position, Verstappen managed to control the race from the front, despite starting on the medium Pirelli tyres, whilst others around him were on the hards, and even through the tricky phase when the rain arrived with a third of the race to run.
Verstappen’s margin of victory over Alonso of 28 seconds was a statement that has allowed him to open up a 39-point cushion over his nearest rival in team-mate Sergio Perez who endured a weekend from hell.
“With the weather, we were predicting there might be a bit of rain towards the end of the race,” said Horner.
“And then when everybody pulls the covers off the tyres and you see people on hards, and with the grid pretty evenly split, you think, ‘S***! If the medium degrades and the hards go to the window of the rain…’ and so on.
“So job one was to get the start, which he did pretty comfortably. He then settled into a pace and he got a pitstop to (third-placed Esteban) Ocon pretty quickly, and he was also able to pull out the 10 seconds to Fernando in case of a safety car window.
“At that point, he was doing such a good job with the tyres, it gave us the longevity to go far enough to see what was going to happen with the weather.
“With 20/20 hindsight, I think we should have probably pitted one lap earlier to go on to the inters but thereafter he was very mature.
“When the rain came he took it steady, he brought the tyres in and closed out the race so a really top-drawer drive from Max.”