Abu Dhabi (AFP)
Elated team manager Christian Horner described Max Verstappen’s lap of pole position for Red Bull at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Saturday as a “phenomenal performance”.
The Dutchman clinched his first pole of the season and third of his career by beating both Mercedes, finishing 0.025 seconds ahead of Valtteri Bottas and 0.086 ahead of seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton.
Verstappen was almost surprised at his feat when he picked up the ‘third man president’ on Thursday and took it with him to a pre-race press conference because, he said, he was became “my chair” this year.
A laughing Horner said, “So many times this year we’ve sat in that third place! Max actually brought it home with him at Thursday’s press conference, but he’s just put in a brilliant lap at the end today.
“It’s so tight – less than a tenth between the first three cars. He was devastated to miss last week and to come back that lap, to get that pole, was a phenomenal performance. ”
Last weekend, the Dutch rider was taken out of the Sakhir Grand Prix in a fall in the first round.
“You know you can count on him and you know he’s going to give it his all. You know he can always surprise you and he did it today before qualifying. ”
Horner added that Verstappen’s pole performance was a significant achievement for the team.
“I think for the team, who have worked so hard to keep improving this car, I also think for Honda and for Max who just got powerful this year – he dragged every ounce of performance out of the car – to get that pole in the last race is important.
“Now we have to convert it into a great result. ”
Red Bull has won only once this season, along with Verstappen, at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone in August.
© 2020 AFP