For the eighth time in the last eleven races Max Verstappen clinches pole potisition, his first at COTA. Pole came almost unexpected for the Dutchman, who struggled during friday's free practice sessions trying to find the perfect balance for his RB16B.
It was Sergio Perez who showed what Red Bull was capable of during FP3, and in Q1 already both bulls outscored Mercedes' Hamilton and Bottas, and so on until the last chequered flag. Hamilton tried his best with his last attempt, but Verstappen was 2 tenths fastest and took his 12th pole position.
Both title rivals will start the race on mediums, and so will Perez, but there is a long way to go until turn 1, where anything can happen: Verstappen and Hamilton already had a moment during FP2, when they almost raced each other out of track. Anything can happen in the race, but surely Max can find an ally in Perez, while Bottas, who has a 5 grid place penalty, can't help Hamilton as he starts from 9th.
Strategy will play a key role, as everyone is expected to go back to the pit twice during the race; also hot temperatures are not helping the tyre degradation.
“I’m surprised after qualifying today but I’m of course very happy to be on pole. 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," said the pole man.
"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 - continued Max - 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. We just have to focus on ourselves tomorrow, hope for a good clean start and then be as fast as we possibly can”.
"P1 and P3 for the team is a very strong performance. I hope to have a good start tomorrow for the best possible result".