MUGELLO, ITALY (AFP) – Max Verstappen said he was pleased Red Bull’s best qualifying performance of the season on Saturday (Sept 12) after he was within four-tenths of Lewis Hamilton’s pole-position lap for the Tuscan Grand Prix.
The Dutchman said he was impressed by his car’s straight-line speed on the fast, challenging and spectacular Ferrari-owned Mugello circuit in the Tuscan hills.
Verstappen qualified third behind series leader Hamilton and the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas. It was not Verstappen’s best position of the year, but his best performance in lap times.
“We did a very good job setting up the car for this weekend compared to some other weekends where we have been a bit further away, where I was not entirely happy with the car,” said Verstappen.
“So I think we really more or less maximised so far what we could do this weekend. We started straight away with a positive balance in the car.
“Maybe the track characteristic helped as well, a little bit. We seem to be a bit better on higher down-force tracks with this car. So I think that might explain it.”
He added that his car’s strength through two flat-out sections of the final sector had given him belief.
“For once we have quite decent top speed this year – so I think that’s quite good around here, but it won’t be easy to pass. At least the track, the last few corners, they’re a bit wide and long so you can do a few different lines.
“But it’s all going to anyway depend on, firstly, if you have the pace to follow and second, of course, tyre degradation.”