“I feel very confident in qualifying compared to last year” — Verstappen delighted as he takes sixth consecutive Grand Prix pole for F1 Chinese GP

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The championship leader achieved Red Bull’s 100th pole position in China, also becoming the first driver since Mika Häkkinen in 1999 to take P1 in qualifying at the first 5 races of the season.

Following his Sprint race win, the Dutchman took a dominant pole on a dry track leading all three Qualifying segments and cutting three tenths off his first Q3 attempt, which would have set him on the front row as well.

Verstappen discussed his final laps in the post-qualifying press conference, admitting his displeasure with his first run:

“It was a bit confusing in Q3 where on the first run I went slower than in Q2. It might have been the wind, because it’s very difficult to understand that anyway. Around here with the wind direction it’s very sensitive to the balance of the car.

“Then for the final run I didn’t really know what to expect, but you just push on and everything just came a bit together, the grip felt a little bit more normal and I managed to improve, That was very nice. Overall, the whole of qualifying I was very happy with the car, it felt very well balanced as well, so of course then you can push on and that was crucial to being on pole today.”

Asked on the difference in track conditions between the earlier 19-lap long race and qualifying later in the afternoon, and whether he had noticed an evolution in lap times, the three-time World Champion was not too convinced.

“For me personally, it didn’t really feel like there was a massive track evolution. Q1 maybe a little bit but also partly, I guess, because you come out of a race with a lot of deg, where then you put new tyres on, low fuel, you have to get into it a little bit as well, on your own side as well. But from Q2 to Q3 it was very little.”

Verstappen also took the time to acknowledge the milestone reached by his team today, as well as to praise his teammate Sergio Perez for starting alongside him and four times championship winner Sebastian Vettel for securing Red Bull’s first pole right here in Shanghai:

“Before I jumped in the car, Christian told me that if I get pole today it could be number 100 for the team. So I said “OK, that’s nice, I’ll try, you know, I’ll give it a good go’. That’s an incredible achievement for the whole team. Of course a big contribution from Seb, back in the day.

“Fantastic to have the 1-2 in qualifying. It shows the car is again working really well and from my side it’s been a really good start to the year. I feel very confident in qualifying even compared to last year. Just a shame that we retired in Melbourne as we could have had already a very strong lead bit overall, still a great start,” he summed up his season up to now.

The championship leader, who has at the moment a 15 points advantage over Perez in P2, also mentioned the importance the information on tyre degradation from the Sprint will have in preparing for tomorrow’s 56 laps.

“It definitely gave you a bit more of an idea with the deg, what to look at, what to work on for tomorrow. Of course, thew wind direction is going to change again tomorrow, so the balance of the car in some corners will be a bit different again, but I think if the car is even half as good as what it as in the Sprint I think we will be alright,” he concluded.