Max Verstappen showed his relief at surviving difficult and changeable conditions on Saturday when he edged out friend and rival Lando Norris to take pole position at the British Grand Prix.
The two-time defending world champion and runaway series leader overtook McLaren’s Norris with a late final lap to secure pole in one minute and 26.720, leading Norris by two-tenths.
“It’s been a crazy qualifying,” said the 25-year-old Dutchman, who is seeking his maiden British Grand Prix victory at the eighth attempt.
“Really quite choppy and also quite slippery in places, but we did our laps and in Q3 I was surprised to see those two (McLaren) there.
“I mean, it’s great for McLaren to be here and from our side I’m very happy to be on pole.
McLaren claimed its first start from the front row at its home British Grand Prix since 2008 through Norris with teammate Australian rookie Oscar Piastri taking third behind him ahead of both Ferraris.
Verstappen added that the changeable conditions had been a challenge “especially in Q1 and Q2 and there were some small wet spots so we had to be a bit careful in Q3.”
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 8, 2023
“Of course you push close to the limit, but obviously we have a fast car so we didn’t need to go 100 per cent.
“Today was not a very big gap, but for us it was a great day and I am already looking forward to the race.”
Verstappen’s pole was his fifth in a row, the seventh of the season and the 27th of his career, as he leads Red Bull’s bid for a record-equalling 11th straight race victory, equaling McLaren’s achievement in 1988.
Piastri was third fastest ahead of the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz and the Mercedes of George Russell and seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton.
As Verstappen celebrated, his Red Bull teammate Sergio Pérez, and his closest rival in the championship, who trails him by 81 points in the drivers’ title race, suffered a fifth early exit this season, this time from the Q1.
Max ruins everything!
Briefly holding provisional pole position, Norris claimed his third front-row start.
“I was close,” he said. “I was P1 in Q1, pretty sure I was P1 in Q2 and only a couple of tenths from being P1 in Q3. pretty crazy! My last lap was a good lap.
“I could hear Zak (team boss Zak Brown) on the radio on the last lap. For us to be second and third is great for the team, but it’s always Max, and he always ruins everything for everyone!
Piastri was also delighted.
“What a qualifying session!” he said. “We almost went out in Q1! But the car was a rocket in Q2 and Q3 and I felt like I did a pretty good lap.
“It is also a great result for the team. To have both of us up here is a great result and we have to try to stay there for tomorrow.”
Williams’ Alex Albon was eighth ahead of two-time champion Fernando Alonso and Alpine’s Pierre Gasly.
Qualifying began after heavy rain and the first session was red flagged with three minutes to go when Kevin Magnussen parked his Haas on track near the pit entrance.
This caused a delay before, with Pérez and Albon leading a queue, a restart was scheduled, during which Verstappen retired, but hit the pit wall and damaged his car’s front wing.
After repairs, he went out again and was on his way to the 27th pole of his career.
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