There are times when the differences between the cars become narrower, when it simply counts to be in the right place at the right time, knowing how to withstand the pressure of a tense qualifying. With the highest stakes up for grabs, Max Verstappen didn’t disappoint expectations, hitting a pole position that was as sweaty as it was beautiful.
The Dutchman beat Fernando Alonso by just 84 thousandths at the last attempt, at the end of a very particular strategy. Indeed, the Red Bull driver had started Q3 with a double attempt on the first set of tyres, momentarily setting the best time. This meant that he was then the last to leave the pits for the last run, the decisive one. Charles Leclerc and Fernando Alonso tried to snatch pole from the hands of the Hasselt driver, but Verstappen made the last lap to the limit, setting the absolute best time in the last sector, where he also touched the wall at the exit from the last corner.
The Dutch and the Spanish of Aston Martin were divided by only 84 thousandths, but that confirms how tense and heated qualifying was in the principality. A great performance that will allow him to start the race tomorrow in front of everyone, with the possibility of imposing his pace right from the start in the event of a good start.
“I’m very happy, we knew it would be a bit tough for us to put everything together, yesterday wasn’t the best start for us but we kept improving and improving. But then in qualifying you have to go to the maximum and risk everything”, explained Verstappen, underlining the difficulties encountered yesterday in FP1 due to a less than ideal set-up. The changes made between the two sessions, as well as the intense work during the night paid off, putting him in the position of being able to take pole.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images
“My first sector wasn’t ideal on my last lap, I think Turn 1 was a bit conservative but then I knew I was behind, so in the last sector I gave everything I had, hit the wall but obviously I’m very happy to be on pole here for the first time”, added the Dutch explaining where he built the time that earned him the first position. One last sector in which he achieved the record, catching up on Alonso by almost a tenth.
“I think the best part was that we completed a clean Q3, with no red flags, so we could push to the limit. It was fantastic and good for everyone.”
Attention is now turned to tomorrow, to that turn one where the Spaniard of the Aston Martin will undoubtedly try to overturn the result of qualifying. Above all, it will be essential to maintain concentration on a different level, because on a track like Monaco the scenarios can change in just a few seconds: “We need a clean start, turn 1 is short.
A lot can happen in Monaco, right? Safety Car, rain. There is always some chaos. I think the car is fast in terms of race pace, that’s not the problem, but we just need to stay calm and clean,” added Verstappen.
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