Verstappen: Engineer "fired me up" for Styrian F1 pole lap

Max Verstappen reckons his Red Bull Formula 1 engineer being "upset" at his late Q2 tactics "fired me up" to secure Styrian Grand Prix pole on his first Q3 lap.

Verstappen: Engineer "fired me up" for Styrian F1 pole lap

Verstappen said after taking pole for last weekend's French GP that "you're always a tiny bit under the potential in your first [Q3] run" when drivers are tasked with getting through Q2 on the medium tyres to gain a race strategy advantage before switching back to the softs for Q3.

After he did that again in qualifying at the Red Bull Ring on Saturday – as did Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, the only other Q3 runners to try and make it through on the harder compound – asked Verstappen in the post-session press conference if that transfer had been different this time around.

But Verstappen had a different explanation for why his pole-winning time, a 1m03.841s, came on his first run in Q3 (although the 1m03.919s he set on his second run would also have been good enough to claim his sixth F1 career pole), which centred on the lap he was supposed to complete back on the soft tyres at the end of Q2.

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Red Bull and Mercedes typically send their drivers back out on softs for the final runs in the middle segment of qualifying just in case they are in danger of being knocked out based on their times set on harder rubber and so they can get their eyes in ahead of the top 10 shootout.

On that run on Saturday, Verstappen quickly backed off exiting Turn 1 because he encountered traffic as he braked on the racing line, which he said led to a dressing down from engineer Gianpiero Lambiase when he returned to the Red Bull garage to prepare for Q3.

"I think my engineer actually fired me up on that one because he was upset that I didn't do the sighter lap on the softs," Verstappen said. "He came on the radio when I boxed and he was like 'I know you were held up into Turn 1, but you should have pushed for the lap to see how the tyres worked'.

"I didn't answer him, but I think secretly inside it did fire me up to push a bit harder on that first run in Q3."

When asked how well he felt he had performed to take his second pole in succession and third overall in 2021, Verstappen replied: "Yeah, I think it clicked quite well in qualifying – we made a few little adjustments and it seemed like that was a good step forwards.

[It was just about] getting through the tyres, making sure that you would qualify on the medium in Q2 – because the gaps around here with all the other teams as well, are quite small.

"So it was not super easy to get through Q2 with that tyre. But we managed to do that. [I'm] Pretty pleased in Q3 – that first lap was pretty good.

"My second run was a little bit worse, just because I was the last one in the train, so my tyres I think were just a little bit too cold to start the lap. But nevertheless it was a good qualifying."


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