M ax Verstappen was relieved. The 21-year-old has already come close to his first pole position a few times. For example last year at the GP Mexico. The team mate stole his best starting position at the last moment. From the Dutchman's point of view, it finally happened in the 93rd Grand Prix. Verstappen captured his first pole position on Saturday qualifying for the Hungarian GP at the age of 21 years, 10 months and 5 days.
Annoying questions stop
The youngest winner of the Grand Prix history is now the fourth youngest man to have won a qualification. Only Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc and Fernando Alonso made it earlier. A reporter asks what the first career pole means for him. 'That the annoying questions finally stop, when will I be at the front for the first time on a Saturday.'
Red Bull's boy prodigy is processing his next big career moment like a veteran. “It was only a matter of time before it worked. And a question of luck. You just need that sometimes. I know I could have done it sooner. I got in my own way a few times with mistakes. Still, I didn't let myself be driven crazy. ”
After the Friday practice session, Red Bull's engineers still sounded cautious. The changing weather clouded the view of the balance of power. Nevertheless, they said: 'Mercedes will be damn hard to beat here.' Red Bull dueled the Silver Arrows on an equal footing. Verstappen was just a blink of an eye from Valtteri Bottas. The two men from the first row separated 18 thousandths.
Verstappen packs the best sectors in one round
TheEngineers linked the training victory to three factors. A refined setup from Friday to Saturday. The optimal preparation of the soft tires. And a pilot in top form. Verstappen lined up his three fastest sectors in the decisive lap. In the first section he put the fourth fastest split time on the track. Second fastest in the middle sector. And in the last three corners nobody was faster than the flying Dutchman. Although this section of the track belonged to the Mercedes for the entire weekend.
Red Bull improved compared to Friday, especially in the slow corners. Without paying for it in the medium-fast corners. “The three twists that Verstappen had in practice were due to the setup. It wasn't 100 percent right. In qualifying, the car was exactly where we wanted it to be, ”said Red Bull's sports director Helmut Marko. His star driver reported: “We were competitive all weekend. The car felt good. In qualifying it got even better with every lap. It was a pleasure to drive. ”
Step by step, Red Bull stalked the silver competition after a mixed start to the season. The biggest step came at the Austrian GP. “The balance has been right since then. We then refined it with every race weekend, ”says Verstappen. The technical department continuously pushes upgrades. In Hungary it is a revised front wing and underbody.
Red Bull destroys Ferrari in corners
The policy of small steps helps the engineers to understand. A few weeks ago, the Hungaroring would have been called Mercedes territory. There is now a tie. “We are on the same level with our chassis”, says Marko. Partner Honda only has to improve on the engine. In terms of peak performance, the Japanese V6 turbo lacks between 20 and 30 hp.
On the winding Hungaroring with a full throttle of almost 60 percent, the contact pressure counts more than the engine power. “Mercedes couldn't play out its party mode here.” Red Bull loses practically no time on the Silver Arrows on the straights. Verstappen rode over the home straight at 307.5 km /h. Lewis Hamilton was 1.8 km /h faster, Bottas 2.4 km /h.
Only Ferrari is still a force on the straights. “In the third training session, they gave us half a second,” say the engineers. The red cars are too slow in the curves for that. “We destroy them in the slow and medium-fast corners. They only keep up with the fast ones. “There are too few of them on the Hungaroring for Ferrari to intervene in the battle for pole position.
Max Verstappen used the moment to take a small tip against Ex -Fire engine partner Renault. A reporter wants to know from him what he thinks of Renault's statement about 1,000 hp in certain peaksto reach. 'Then they must have a very bad car.' Then the focus is on race Sunday. Both Verstappen and Mercedes will tackle the first stint on medium tires. After the rainy Friday it will be a journey into the certain. “We don't have a lot of data. But we can usually rely on our racing pace, ”say the engineers. Verstappen adds: 'Only Sunday counts.' The 21-year-old wants his third win of the season.