Max Verstappen bared the intensity of his pole position battle with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso. The session saw a mere 0.084 seconds separating Verstappen and Alonso at the top of the timesheets in Q3, with Verstappen ultimately claiming the coveted pole position.
Verstappen, aged 26, found himself on the edge of losing P1 as he entered the final sector, with Alonso posing a formidable challenge. Determined not to let the opportunity slip away, Verstappen pushed himself and his RB19 to their limits to secure the pole, acknowledging that the experience left him physically shaken after the session.
Verstappen’s first run in Q3 yielded a lap time slower than his best run in Q2, with competitors like Alonso, Carlos Sainz, Charles Leclerc, and George Russell surpassing his performance. As Verstappen embarked on his second run, it seemed unlikely that he could clinch pole, given steady times in the first two sectors. However, the two-time F1 champion saved his best for last, going purple in the final sector and seizing P1.
Despite setting an impressive time, Verstappen fell down the order as other drivers posted faster times. Opting for a second run on the same set of tires, Verstappen faced a do-or-die situation on new tires for his last attempt. The Red Bull ace maintained steady times at the beginning of his lap, setting the stage for a dramatic conclusion in the final sector.
Verstappen pushed himself and the RB19 to the absolute limit for pole position, beating Alonso by a razor-thin margin of 0.084 seconds. Admitting to hitting the walls “a few times” during the intense lap, Verstappen revealed on the radio that the experience had left him ‘shaking.’
“Of course, I realized when I was taking the curve before the start of the third sector that I had been faster than I had driven previously,” Verstappen confessed to Marca. “But I knew it wouldn’t be enough. I also had that feeling.”
“So, I thought: ‘I’m going to go completely to the limit and see how it ends.’ I could have made pole or I could have crashed into the wall. And, yes, I touched some walls, I ‘kissed’ them a little. But, of course, it was a beautiful area.”
“I noticed when I parked the car and took off my helmet, I was still shaking a little. There you know that your heart rate is at its maximum and that pushes you to get the best you have.”