Verstappen: Closer grid is “good for Formula 1” after dead heat with Russell for F1 Canadian GP pole

Photo Credits: Red Bull Content Pool
Spread the love

Max Verstappen qualified second for the 2024 Canadian GP, setting exactly the same time of a 1:12.000 as George Russell, but the Mercedes driver had set his first and thus kept the first position in what was a very close qualifying session around Montreal.

The three-time world champion wasn’t the happiest with the balance of his Red Bull throughout the race weekend at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, in what has become a bit of a trend for Red Bull to start the practice sessions on the backfoot and having to play catch-up as the weekend progresses.

The Dutchman believes that a place on the front row is “alright” given Red Bull’s struggles in some of the bumpy sections of the track and the underlying strong pace shown by Mercedes since Friday:

“We’re still struggling with the same things, but of course, the track layout helps compared to Monaco [which] is a lot more low speed, so it’s really important to have good ride, mechanical grip.

“Here, of course, there’s more aero involved, of course, there are a few places still where you need to ride curbs or you have bumpy places, but we know those limitations, so we need to just work on that, but that’s why I think in general, to be in P2 here is alright.

“In general, I think it wasn’t a bad qualifying,” he said. “I think what was mentioned before, probably Q3 was the weakest of the sessions for Mercedes. Being on the exact same lap time it’s great, but in hindsight, I think when you look at their pure pace, I’ll take second, because after Q2, I saw their lap times [and] I was like ‘there is no way that I can do something like that’.”

Verstappen believes that Red Bull will need to iron out some of the issues it has been facing with its car and set-up in the last few races if it is to have an easier time to return to winning ways, by just having “cleaner” race weekends – the Dutchman lost most of FP2 after a MGU-K issue halted his progress, whilst other minor issues with the gearbox and general balance left him unimpressed after FP3:

“Then of course there was a little bit of rain in between, like a few spits here and there, but I think overall, just this weekend was again a bit messy from our side, just too many little issues.

“And then from there onwards, we tried to of course find the best possible balance with the car, [and] I think we did get a decent balance in qualifying, I was quite happy with it, but we need to be able to just have cleaner weekends without issues, and I think that will help a bit as well.”

After taking pole position in the first seven races of the 2024 season, Verstappen has failed to continue that run in the last two rounds, as Ferrari and now Mercedes have stepped up to the challenge on a Saturday. The Dutchman is keeping calm about the situation, mentioning how it’s an ever-changing dynamic from one track to another and believes the closer competition is “good for Formula 1”:

“I think in general, when you look at the whole grid, there are quite a few surprises, like good surprises and bad surprises, so it just shows that everyone is closing up and it’s really details that make the difference – maybe you understand tyres better, you know of certain weaknesses from your car and probably other teams have their own weaknesses.

“So you just need to play that as well and take that into account with certain track layouts, but it’s good for Formula 1.”

Looking ahead to Sunday’s Grand Prix, Verstappen believes tyre management and the threat of ever-changing conditions with the weather will be the key to secure victory:

“With the tyres, you know, it’s a bit tricky with the graining and maybe some rain in between, so yeah, a lot of question marks and you just need to, you know, get going and see what happens.”