Max Verstappen and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner have revealed that multiple car problems during Verstappen’s final qualifying lap almost cost him his pole position.
Verstappen took pole for his first home grand prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton by just 0.038s despite losing two-tenths to the Mercedes driver in the last sector on their final attempts in qualifying.
Speaking in the drivers’ press conference, Verstappen said his car shifted up an additional gear on the exit of the Hugenholtz corner, compromising his run along the back straight.
“For me the problem started earlier out of turn three – it’s quite bumpy and I had a double-upshift,” said Verstappen. “So I was two-tenths up on my lap and I lost one-and-a-half tenths all the way to turn seven. And then you also use more energy because you are a gear higher, so I de-rated as well.”
Christian Horner also confirmed that Verstappen’s DRS failed to fully deploy on his rear wing, which contributed to Verstappen losing time to Hamilton over the final part of the lap.
“We saw we lost a straight-line speed just on that last straight,” said Horner. “It looks like that the DRS hasn’t opened properly, so he’s probably given away a tenth, a tenth-and-a-half. But an amazing performance by him under massive pressure. So really happy with that.”
Verstappen said he was unaware that his DRS had failed to deploy fully on the run to the line after he activated it.
“I had no clue that it was closed,” he said. “Together of course with what I said before with the double-upshift, it’s not ideal. So there was definitely quite a bit more time in it. Luckily it was enough for pole.”
Horner says that the pressure to deliver in front of his home fans at the first Dutch Grand Prix in almost forty years was not fazing their championship contender.
“It’s remarkable. It’s almost as if all of that lot out there isn’t going on because he just doesn’t seem to feel it,” said Horner.
“He was watching the DTM race before qualifying. He’s very relaxed. He’s just treating it like a normal race weekend and the other side of the fence is going bananas. What an amazing atmosphere. And for sure, every driver feeds off a home crowd.”
With the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez starting from the near the back of the field after being eliminated in Q1, Horner says that the team expect to feel pressure from the Mercedes pair of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in the race.
“We’ve just got to get our head down and get on with our own race,” Horner said.
“In a perfect world, we drive away at the front. I just somehow think it’s not going to be that simple. But they’ve got two guys that they can split their options. But the key guy we have to beat, obviously, is Lewis. So you’ve got to pick your fights.”
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