Verstappen ranks pole among best after Imola fightback

Max Verstappen ranks his pole position at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix as one of the best of his career after turning around in qualifying what had started out a tough weekend for Red Bull.

Red Bull brought an upgrade to Imola but struggled to get the car setup right during Friday practice, with Verstappen having multiple off-track moments and being off the pace on high fuel load, too. He was more competitive in FP3 but Sergio Perez crashed late in that session — a sign of how tough the car still was to drive — and Verstappen says he wasn’t expecting pole position before beating the two McLarens, led by Oscar Piastri (pictured with Verstappen, above) by under 0.1s.

“In the last couple years, [this] is definitely one of the best I would say,” Verstappen said. “Because it’s been a while that I felt like we’ve been that far off. I mean, Singapore, we were off the whole weekend, so that was just a terrible weekend. But here we were also quite far off and then we managed to turn it around.


“So it must be at least five, six years, I don’t really remember being able to turn it around like that.

“We kept on working. Even this morning, it was not good. Just kept on trying to improve the balance of the car, because it was shifting a bit all over the place yesterday and this morning. I honestly went into qualifying like, ‘If we could get top five, I would be happy because this weekend has been really difficult.’

“There was really no reference going into qualifying. But it felt straight away a lot better, I felt more comfortable, I could attack corners finally a bit more and it all started to come together.”

Verstappen starts with the two McLarens directly behind him and the Ferrari pair in fourth and fifth, and he admits he does not feel prepared for Sunday’s race.

“Yesterday was terrible in long run and short run. This morning, we wanted to do a long run, but then we only did three laps and also there it didn’t feel good,” he said. “But I also had no balance in the short run, so it’s quite normal that on the long run it’s not good. Naturally I think with the balance I had in qualifying it will be better, but I’ve no clue against McLaren — they’ve been very strong yesterday in their long run, so hopefully we can do something similar.

“The whole weekend we’ve been on the back foot. We managed to be on top in qualifying but that’s qualifying — the race can be a bit different. Normally I would like to be a little bit better prepared with a bit more information going into the race, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens.”

Story originally appeared on Racer