Saturday, March 2, 2024

Max Verstappen Admits “It wasn’t a straightforward qualifying” Despite Austrian GP Pole

Max Verstappen achieved his fourth consecutive pole position for the Austrian Grand Prix, but he admitted that the qualifying session on Friday was anything but straightforward. Despite his remarkable pole position, Verstappen encountered hurdles during the session, and the margin to the driver in second was much lower than in previous races we’ve seen this season.

During both Q1 and Q2, Verstappen faced setbacks as he was found to have exceeded track limits, resulting in the loss of lap times. However, the Dutchman demonstrated resilience and quickly recovered from these setbacks, putting in banker laps to give him some stability within each of the sessions without the worry of elimination. He managed to navigate through the challenges and advanced to the pole shootout, where he made a strong push to secure the coveted front position on the starting grid during Q3.

With a final time of 1:04.391s, Verstappen managed to secure pole over Scuderia Ferrari driver, Charles Leclerc, by a margin of just under half a tenth of a second. The Oracle Red Bull Racing driver openly admitted that achieving this feat required a delicate balance between taking risks and reaping the rewards. Verstappen’s strategic approach and skilful execution ultimately led him to claim the top spot.

“It’s great to be on pole here at the Red Bull Ring, it feels good. It wasn’t a straightforward qualifying because of all the track limits. It’s very hard to judge the white line here, a lot of us got caught out so at least it wasn’t just us.

“Today was all about surviving, we just needed to bank the laps as we weren’t able to push hard. It’s such a short lap here so we are all pretty close together. We’ve got a long weekend ahead so a lot can happen, tomorrow will be a completely different story. Today, the car was quick and we were ahead, that’s the most important thing.”

Sergio Pérez: “We will try and recover on Sunday”

Credit: Lars Baron/Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

On the other side of the garage, Sergio Pérez once again missed out on a Q3 appearance for the fourth consecutive race weekend. The Mexican was clearly frustrated with his session as he believes he had the pace to challenge near the front.

Pérez had two lap times deleted in Q2, meaning he finished dead last in the second part of the qualifying session, but it was different to his previous performances in the last few qualifying sessions, as the Mexican had visible pace on show throughout the first two parts of qualifying. Despite the disappointment, he’ll be hoping he can fight his way through the pack into contention for the podium on Sunday.

“I think we most definitely had the pace today and you could see that as qualifying progressed. I’m disappointed, especially with my final lap. It is always fine margins at this circuit and the first two laps that I had deleted for track limits the rules were clear and I accept those decisions from the stewards.

“On my final run in Q2 I tried to push as best as I could within those limits and was on a good lap but was in traffic and that was trickier to keep clean. It is what it is, we look forward to tomorrow, it is a new opportunity.

“The most positive thing is that we have the pace and then we will try and recover on Sunday afternoon for the race. I am feeling a little better but still not one hundred percent, my whole focus is on being prepared for tomorrow’s Sprint and then racing well on Sunday.”

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