Why Max Verstappen was ‘shouting on the radio’ in Brazilian GP pole lap panic

Oliver Harden
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen punches the air after claiming Brazilian GP pole.

Max Verstappen punches the air in the Red Bull garage.

Max Verstappen admitted that his Red Bull’s “shocking” balance in worsening conditions left him “shouting on the radio” in panic as his pole position lap for the Brazilian Grand Prix unfolded.

Verstappen claimed his 12th pole position – a number including his effort at July’s Belgian GP, where he served a grid penalty – at Interlagos on Friday, with a margin of three tenths over Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc.

The final segment of qualifying began with ominous dark clouds hanging over the Interlagos circuit, with a storm hitting as drivers finished their laps and bringing a premature end to the session.

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Verstappen’s lap for pole position was six tenths slower than the time he recorded in Q3, with the relative lack of grip leaving the three-time World Champion nervous as the lap developed.

However, Verstappen was told to keep pushing and finish his lap with all drivers struggling in the conditions.

He said: “The gaps were very, very small between everyone. So through Q1, Q2, you could see that everyone was using a lot of tyre sets and that made it quite interesting, I think.

“Then, of course, we lined up to go out for Q3 and you could see the sky was just black. And I was like: ‘Wow, if that rain hits it’s going to be a lot.’

“So the outlap was quite quick and then we went for the lap, the first sector felt alright and then the rest of the lap felt shocking.

“I think what happened, of course, throughout the lap was that the rain was coming in, it was not hitting the track yet, but the wind increased a lot –  and it changed direction with a tailwind in the middle sector.

“The car was just sliding all over the place. I was shouting on the radio, like: ‘What the hell happened? We are nowhere.’

“But the team just told me to keep pushing because they said everyone was struggling out there. But I’ve never experienced something like that, that it’s such a big influence on car balance. But you could also see the weather incoming was quite extreme.”

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Verstappen admitted to being confused by the RB19 car’s behaviour over the bumps at Interlagos, especially as Red Bull made minimal changes between the end of practice and the start of qualifying.

And with McLaren driver Lando Norris qualifying a distant seventh on the road having been caught out by the conditions, Verstappen acknowledged that he may not have taken pole if Q3 had been held in completely dry conditions.

He said: “It was a bit difficult over the bumps.

“I don’t know why that was the case because we didn’t really touch the car [after practice], so we need to understand that because on the bumps it was not very comfortable. But we tried to work our way around it.

“The gaps were just very, very close. I think we were quite competitive.

“I think no one really knew who was going to be first in Q3 If it would have been a normal session without the weather incoming, but then that makes it quite interesting for Sunday as well to see how everything will evolve with the long-run pace.”

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