Max Verstappen narrowly missed out on breaking up Mercedes’ front row lock out for the Belgian Grand Prix by just 0.015s, but he wasn’t complaining after falling short of battery power on his final qualifying lap.
Instead it was Lewis Hamilton who successfully claimed pole position for Sunday’s race, while Valtteri Bottas just clinging on to second place on the grid at the end of the session.
“I think for us overall it’s been a very positive weekend so far,” Verstappen told the media after the end of the session. “We came here and we thought it was going to be really tricky for us.
- Hamilton puts in perfect pole lap as Ferrari flops in Q2
He said that it had been quite an achievement “actually to be P3 and that close to Valtteri,” he added. “Of course, we’re still half a second off to Lewis, but I think overall I can be very pleased with that.”
When he was told over the team radio on the cool down lap just how close he’d come to deposing Bottas, Verstappen had responded with a light hearted howl of frustration.
“The lap was decent,” he insisted. “I might have run out of energy a little bit but of course it is distributed around the whole lap.
“It’s probably the fastest way of getting the lap time,” he added. “But very pleased, good day and a lot of opportunities for tomorrow.”
Verstappen will be starting on the medium tyres for tomorrow’s race, the same choice that was made by both Hamilton and Bottas. But the weather conditions may yet prove to be a big factor in how the race plays out, with a 60 per cent chance of rain in the forecast for Sunday.
The 22-year-old Dutchman hopes that this could help put Red Bull on an even footing despite the Mercedes’ clearly superior raw pace.
“If you look at the lap time difference to Lewis I don’t think we can suddenly in the race start to fight him,” he said. “But around here you never know.
“With the weather as well, I hope that will come into play. It makes it all a bit more difficult for everyone and it’s a bit more fun as well. And especially on this track, if there is a bit of weather around it’s a lot of fun!”
It was a sentiment echoed by Verstappen’s team mate Alexander Albon, who will be lining up right behind him on the grid in fifth place.
“It looks like it’s going to rain … when it rains, that’s good for us,” the British-born Thai driver said.
“We’re going to be starting on the softs,” he told Sky Sports F1. “I don’t think I quite had the pace on the mediums to qualify through like that – but maybe we did, actually, looking back at it.
“The starts are obviously important here. It’s a short run [into turn 1] but it’s important to be clean and get through it, and after that we’ll see.”
Overall, Albon felt he’d had a stronger time this weekend in practice and qualifying which had seen him close the gap to Verstappen exactly a year after joining the senior Red Bull squad in 2019.
“It was okay. It took a bit of time to get into it, and then once we were hooked up – actually Q2 was my best lap.
“A bit disappointed in Q3,” he admitted. “Just little bits but obviously a bit of a lone wolf in the second run [without a tow from Verstappen] so it was a little bit harder.
“No, I’m happy. I think coming from FP1 the cars felt nice straight away and it hasn’t been changing too much, we’ve been chipping away, at it and it’s been a positive day.
“The last lap in my last run was not good. I am a bit disappointed about that. A fourth-place would have been possible.”
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