Max Verstappen said he was intent on picking up a long-awaited victory in the Brazilian Grand Prix tomorrow.
The Red Bull had been on course to win the race 12 months ago before late contact with Esteban Ocon lost him the lead. He’s intent on making sure that doesn’t happen again this year.
“We’ll try to finish it off now,” he said when asked what he felt his prospects were for Sunday’s race.
Verstappen certainly established himself as the man to beat, sweeping all three rounds of qualifying at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace on Saturday.
“The car was really good,” Verstappen acknowledged. “I think throughout qualifying, the track temperature was changing a bit so we had to adjust to that.
“But straightaway from Q1 the car was flying and it was actually really enjoyable to drive, so I’m really happy with this pole position.”
Even though he made an error in his first Q3 lap, Verstappen went straight to the top of the timesheets.
“I tried a different line but also the track was a bit warmer so it gave me a bit more understeer, and then of course I went a bit wide,” he said.
“But the second lap luckily was a bit better,” he added, ensuring that he stayed ahead of Sebastian Vettel for pole position.
It was the best birthday present that Red Bull boss Christian Horner could have wanted.
“I think he just got the car really hooked up,” Horner told Sky Sports F1 after the end of the session.
“The whole package has been working really well. The circuit got a little tricky at the end there, it was difficult to improve and he just eked those last little gains. A brilliant qualifying for him.
“We have got a good car, we have been a contender for pole in the last three races now so that’s really encouraging.”
The pole was the team’s second of the season, and Horner credited engine partners Honda for all their hard work since their partnership began at the start of 2019.
“All credit to Honda, they are doing a wonderful job to get what is now officially their second pole position in the hybrid era,” he said. It’s the Japanese manufacturers’s first pole in Brazil since Ayrton Senna’s in 1991.
“It’s high altitude here, it’s a tough track on engines, and if you think of where a few years ago the effort going in is really impressive.
Meanwhile the second Red Bull will start from fifth place on the grid for tomorrow’s race, with newly re-signed Alexander Albon admitting that Interlagos was proving a difficult nut to crack for a rookie.
“It’s my first time but I don’t like that excuse,” he said. “It was okay. I think after FP2 and FP3 I struggled to get into the rhythm.
“Actually my laps didn’t feel bad, which is not a nice feeling when you feel good and the pace isn’t there!” he added. Coming from FP3 it was a positive turnaround in that sense, but I wanted more.”
Albion said that the first series of corners – the Senna Esses – were particularly tough to get to grips with.
“Even my second run, I had a little snap into turn 2. It’s not even that turn 2 is slow, it’s that the tyres are too hot for the rest of the lap.
“It is like very fine margins around here because all the corners are after each other so you basically you compromise one corner and then you’ve just ruined four or five.
“There’s no many tracks like this, and I do enjoy driving here, but I wanted to be a bit quicker at it!”