Verstappen boosted by Red Bull bounce back
Max Verstappen admitted that he didn’t expect Red Bull to be as close to the two leading Mercedes cars this weekend as they turned out to be, after the slump in form they suffered last time out in Monza.
Verstappen qualified in fifth place for last weekend’s Grand Prix and was a disappointing nine tenths off the pole position time set by Lewis Hamilton.
But this weekend has was back to his usual form, picking up third place on the grid for tomorrow’s Tuscan GP and ending up a lot closer to Hamilton in the final timings.
- Hamilton wins knife-edge Mugello pole over Bottas
“I personally never really expected to fight them in qualifying,” he told Sky Sports F1 after the end of qualifying. “But I think overall so far this weekend it has been really promising.
“We bounced back well from Monza where it was tricky, so I think in the end to be third in qualifying we can be very happy with that.”
Verstappen said that the breezy conditions at Mugello on Saturday had played a part on how the session went.
“It picked up a little bit in Q3,” he explained. “These cars are really tricky anyway with the wind.
“My first lap was not amazing, and then I think the second run lap time-wise was a little better. But I think the track was not the same because of the wind.”
All in all, Verstappen said he loved getting to race at Mugello, the first time that the circuit has hosted a Formula 1 Grand Prix in its history.
“The track is amazing to drive, in qualifying it was really something special,” he said.
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Today’s qualifying also proved a satisfying experience for his team mate Alex Albon. The London-born Thai driver has struggled to match Verstappen’s performances in qualifying this season, but will start alongside Verstappen on the second row for tomorrow’s race.
He felt that he would have been able to do better if not for the late yellow flag triggered by Renault’s Esteban Ocon which forced everyone to back off at the end of the session.
“You always feel like you can do better from the session before,” he said. “My first run in Q3 was okay, and then there was a yellow car in the way.
“But it’s P4 still and I’m happy with that,” he insisted. “It’s going in the right direction.”
Now he hopes that he will be able to put his improved grid position to good use come the start of the race on Sunday.
“It’s a long run into turn 1,” he said. We haven’t been the greatest off the line, overtaking is going to be hard here.
“But degradation is looking pretty good. I think that last corner isn’t actually that bad to follow [other drivers]. It’s not like Barcelona where it’s a traffic jam, waiting for someone to leave the chicane.
“Here I can find a line, get some clear air and stay close.”
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