Red Bull Racing had a qualifying to remember on Saturday for tomorrow’s German Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen took advantage of Scuderia Ferrari‘s engine misfortunes and slotted his RB15 on the front row and three tenths behind pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton.
Despite this being the Austrian Grand Prix race winner’s seventh time in lining up in the top two on the grid, he is still without a career pole position.
A downside for the Dutchman though was not being able to make it through to Q3 on the medium compound in a bid to help with race strategy but was by all means happy with the efforts from both Red Bull and engine partners Honda.
“The front row of the grid is a good achievement for us and Honda on this track,” Verstappen said. “It’s been a good day and we definitely found a bit more performance overnight.
“This morning I was quite happy with the car and also in Q1. I had a little issue in Q2 with a mode setting and it was a shame not to qualify on the medium tyre but once we changed a setting in the pits everything was fine.
“Of course, we have to take into account that Ferrari had a problem with both cars and they would also have been fighting for pole, but you have to be there when it counts and we maximized everything to be on the front row.”
The six-time race winner will be keeping an eye on the weather, as it is expected to rain on Sunday afternoon. He finds that the team “cannot judge” on the how the weather is going to pan out.
“I’m on a different race strategy to Mercedes which is not exactly what we planned but we are in the fight and we will see how much difference the softer tyre makes at the start,” Verstappen added.
“We’re close and we have a good shot tomorrow as we have a good race car. At the moment we cannot judge how the weather will be but we will give it everything and a bit of rain could spice things up.”
Team-mate Pierre Gasly completed a strong qualifying to make it two Red Bulls in the top four for the first time since they locked out the front row in the 2018 Mexican Grand Prix.
This was the perfect response to the crash he had in Free Practice 2, when he lost the car on the last corner and collided with barrier.
The former Scuderia Toro Rosso driver believes “things are coming together” on the back of his great performance in the previous round at Silverstone.
“It was a good qualifying and I managed to do some decent laps so I’m happy with P4,” Gasly added. “The mechanics had a really long night and it’s never nice to see them working flat out to repair the car, so it’s great to qualify on the second row and thank them in this way.”
“Yesterday, I was pushing and just went over the limit. These things happen but it was good to recover today and tomorrow should be exciting with the chance of rain.
“There are still some areas for me to improve and things I could have done better, but things are coming together and I’m happy. Now we need to focus on tomorrow and the race where my aim is to move forwards.”
The Frenchman is conscious of the weather and he thinks that “anything can happen”, given what last year’s event at Hockenheim that happened to be last rain-affected Grand Prix.
“The weather forecast looks very unpredictable but I’m from the North of France where it rains a lot so I’m used to this,” Gasly added positively.
“Looking at Max’s race pace, we should be pretty good tomorrow but anything can happen as we saw with last year’s race. Clearly, the Team is pushing massively, we have had good development and it was a big boost with Max’s race win in Austria.
“I think in terms of development, things are going really well, we’re still a bit behind, but we’re closing in on those in front.”
Team Principal Christian Horner is jubilant of how his drivers have done. With him feeling that happy, he cannot wait for what looks like an “unpredictable and exciting race tomorrow”.
“That was a strong qualifying for both our drivers and to line up on the front row with Max in P2 and Pierre in P4 marks Honda’s best starting position since San Marino in 2006,” Horner addressed.
“In Q2, we had a slight issue with Max which was quickly rectified, but it meant he needed to change tyres so both drivers will start tomorrow’s race on the softer compound.
“It was good to see Pierre make a strong recovery after yesterday’s incident and fourth is his best Formula One qualifying result to date. With unpredictable weather on the way it is shaping up to be another really exciting race tomorrow.”