Max Verstappen believes it was “only a matter of time” before he clinched his maiden pole position in Formula One, which he did in today’s qualifying session for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Coming off the back of an emphatic win at the last race in Germany, the Dutchman has looked in imperious form all weekend as he had the measure of the Hungaroring circuit.
He narrowly snatched pole position by just 0.018s from Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas with five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton just under two-tenths further back in third.
The Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel were fourth and fifth, with Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Pierre Gasly in sixth.
“I knew it was only a matter of time,” Verstappen said. “You need a bit of luck sometimes as well; of course I’ve made mistakes myself and missed pole position but at the end of the day we got it so I’m happy with that.”
Verstappen has been inside the top two in every session of the weekend so far and is in the best position possible to take his third victory of the season.
“The whole weekend the car was very competitive,” the 21-year-old said. “Of course it’s always a bit of a question mark how the car is going to work out in qualifying when they [Mercedes] can turn up a bit more power but we seem to be able to hang in there.
“In fact, the car got better and better throughout the session.”
Despite having a less than ideal weekend after missing most of free practice on Friday, Bottas, who is under pressure to impress his bosses if he wants to keep the sought-after Mercedes seat next season, qualified within two-hundredths off the Dutchman which Mercedes have calculated to be worth just 1.06m on the track.
“It’s not been the easiest of weekends so far,” Bottas said. “Practice three this morning was really important to find the rhythm. Luckily there were no big setup issues so we could just fine tune for qualifying.
“It started to feel nice for Q3; it’s a shame to miss pole by such a small margin.”
Hamilton qualified third as he came into the weekend fighting off a sickness bug, 0.197s behind Verstappen.
“It was a difficult session,” Hamilton said. “When we got into qualifying, the car wasn’t the same as it was in free practice three so it was just a struggle from the beginning and it plateaued from there.
“Hopefully I’ll have better race pace than I did in qualifying.”
Behind the top three teams, the McLarens were best of the rest with Lando Norris edging out team-mate Carlos Sainz for seventh and eighth.
They were followed by Romain Grosjean for Haas and Kimi Räikkönen who rounds out the top 10 for Alfa Romeo.
After wet weather meant very little track time in Friday afternoon’s practice session, the teams and drivers will go into the race not knowing exactly what the 70 laps might bring.
The race gets under way this afternoon at 3.10pm.