Verstappen 'pumped' after matching Senna and Prost records

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB20. 18.05.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 7, Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Imola, Italy, Qualifying Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images
© XPB 

Max Verstappen had looked to be in trouble after Friday's practice session left him well off the pace of his main rivals at McLaren and Ferrari, but the Red Bull driver was back on top in time for qualifying.

Verstappen was fastest in all three rounds of the session on Saturday afternoon at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, with his best time of 1:14.746s set in the final minutes of Q3.

That was still within a tenth of a second of both Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris, but meant he had secured his eighth consecutive pole since Abu Dhabi in 2023, equalling Ayrton Senn'a all-time record in 1988/9.

Verstappen admitted it was a particularly emotional achievement, coming on the 30th anniversary visit to Imola of Senna's fatal accident here in 1994.

"It is very special," Verstappen said in parc ferme. "It's 30 years since he passed away at this track, so of course I am very pleased to get the pole here, and it is a nice memory to him.

"He was an incredible Formula 1 driver, especially in qualifying lap, and it is a great day for me and a great day for the team. I am very happy."

It also matches another record, that of seven consecutive poles to start a season which was set by Alain Prost in 1993. "Of course it has been a great start to the year," he acknowledged.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing receives the Pirelli Pole Position Award from Joshua Zirkzee (NLD) Bologna Football Player in qualifying parc ferme.
18.05.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 7, Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Imola, Italy, Qualifying Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

It was made all the more special by being somewhat unexpected, after his struggles on Friday left him the underdog for once coming into qualifying.

"It's been a really difficult weekend so far, and even this morning, so I am incredibly happy to be on pole here," Verstappen said. "I didn't expect it.

"But we made some changes before qualifying and they seemed to make it feel a bit better, and I could push a bit harder," he continued. "I touched the gravel in the last corner.

"This track is unbelievable, and a qualifying lap, to be on the limit here, close to the gravel- I'm still pumping, the internal heat is very high!"

Verstappen will still have his hands full at the start of tomorrow's race with Piastri and Norris right beside and behind him when the lights go out, poised to take advantage of any mistakes.

And Verstappen will be without his own team mate for support after Sergio Perez fell short of making the final cut for Q3 meaning that he will start tomorrow's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix from P11.

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