F1: Verstappen and Hamilton verbally spar
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Red Bull star Max Verstappen believes the hot weather and hard track conditions on the tyres will add intrigue to his clash with Lewis Hamilton at the US Grand Prix. Verstappen and Hamilton are battling for the world championship in one of the most thrilling title battles in Formula 1’s modern history.
Red Bull started the practice sessions clearly lagging behind Mercedes but they found pace to dominate qualifying.
Verstappen is on pole with teammate Sergio Perez in P3 behind Hamilton – and the performance certainly pleased the 24-year-old.
“I’m surprised after qualifying today but I’m of course very happy to be on pole,” Verstappen said in Red Bull’s press release.
“It hasn’t been the easiest of weekends so far for me, I’ve been chasing the balance quite a bit so to pull that lap together in Q3 was of course really satisfying.
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“I’m really pleased with the performance of the whole team today and I’m glad we could finally pull it together for the final lap.
“We improved the balance and I felt a lot more comfortable in the car today compared to yesterday.”
When looking ahead to the race, the Dutchman admitted he was as concerned by the tough conditions as he was the threat of Hamilton.
“To show this pace in quali is positive for the race tomorrow but I still fully expect it to be tough out there, It’s going to be really warm and very hard on the tyres, which will make it more interesting,” he said.
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“We just have to focus on ourselves tomorrow, hope for a good clean start and then be as fast as we possibly can.”
While Verstappen landed an unlikely pole position, his teammate Perez finally delivered an impressive qualifying performance as he sealed third.
The Mexican was on provisional pole for a while before being ousted by Hamilton and Verstappen, but his performance certainly suggests Red Bull will be the team to beat at the Circuit of the Americas.
“I’m pleased with today’s result but I can’t be 100% satisfied because we had the pace to be on pole,” the Mexican declared in Red Bull’s media brief.
“It’s a bit of a shame but it started raining quite hard on the final lap and I was the last car on track and I lost the time in sector three so we were a little unlucky in that regard.
“It was tense in that final run, we all knew it was coming down to that last lap and Max did a fantastic job as did Lewis and I think we each finished where we deserved to finish.
“I am taking a lot of confidence from this weekend because we’ve been really competitive and it just shows how hard we have been working behind the scenes to make this kind of progress and I expect to keep getting better.
“We are in a good position for tomorrow and it’s going to be a long race where anything can happen. There’s also a lot of support out there from the fans and I really hope I can deliver a fantastic result for them too.”
Red Bull boss Christian Horner was clearly pleased with his team’s performance in qualifying and is excited for the race: “It’s going to be an interesting first corner tomorrow.”
Formula 1 returns to Texas for the United States Grand Prix on October 24, with Red Bull star Verstappen holding a slender six-point lead over Mercedes’ Hamilton.
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