Verstappen says run to pole was “about surviving” because of track limits

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It was a mixed qualifying session for Red Bull, as on one side, Max Verstappen will start the Austrian Gran Prix from pole position, having achieved his fourth pole position in the last four championship rounds.

However, on the other side, Sergio Perez hasn’t managed to make the cut to Q3 for the fourth race in a row, and will start his team’s home GP in P15.

Verstappen was definitely pleased with his strong result, achieved in spite of the abundance of lap times deleted for almost all the drivers on the grid during the session, as he said immediately after Qualifying:

“It was very difficult because of all the track limits. We don’t do this on purpose, but with these speeds and all these high speed corners it’s so hard to judge the white line really, and that’s why I think you could see today a lot of people getting called out, including myself.”

“So, honestly, it was about surviving, even in Q3 like the first lap you just wanted to bank a lap, which takes out the joy a little bit, but I think we still did a good enough lap, so very happy with, of course, being on pole, but there is still a long weekend ahead.”

Asked on the reason why in his opinion his teammate had been bumped out of Q2, the two times World Champion mentioned that its an extremely hard task to actually notice track limits from inside the car at the speed needed to put in a good qualifying lap:

“It’s always very tricky around here, every year, and the cars are big and heavy. To judge it on a line this wide with these speeds is incredibly hard.”

The Dutch driver is already focused on his next challenge, trying to win a Sprint Race for the first time in 2023, as he concluded:

“We know that this is a quite different weekend with the whole format, but of course I’m very hapy with today. Tomorrow is again another very different day, but at least the car is quick.”

The championship leader was investigated after the end of the session for allegedly impeding Kevin Magnussen, but no further action was taken, allowing Verstappen to keep his P1.

Photo credits: Red Bull Racing

Sergio Perez was left very frustrated by the end of this afternoon, as all the three timed attempts he completed during Q2 were deleted due to track limits in the last sector, thus forcing him out of Q3, even if the two times race winner in 2023 had the speed to do well.

“We were a bit confused, but then once I got the feedback that it was on the way into Turn 10, it was all clear and I was on a good lap, but then all of a sudden on my final lap I found, I think, Albon.”

The Mexican driver explained that his final lap was hindered by the Williams driver ahead of him, who forced him to go straight and lose time:

“I just went straight, I could not stop. I think I lost a tenth or a bit more than that, just by going straight, but the stewards wouldn’t consider that I was blocked.

“There’s so many things I can control, and unfortunately this one you’re closing a good lap and then all of a sudden you are blocked and you have a penalty.”

Asked if there’s room to still have a positive race, the “still recovering” from flu Perez confirmed: “We’ll try. It’s just frustrating that we have a good system and we are not able to consider when these things happen.”

Red Bull’s Team Principal Christian Horner was definitely left unsatisfied with the final qualifying result, as he admitted to Sky Sports that it doesn’t “feel complete” knowing the potential and the speed Perez had:

“He’s got the pace today, he’s got a car that is easily capable of being on the first or second row, he was matching Max’s times…Stay in the white lines!

“You know, it was strike one, then strike two ‘Checo, just stay in the white lines’, strike three and that was it. So, it’s hugely frustrating because he could have been there, he could have done it, so that’s the frustration.

“It’s fantastic that we have got the pole, but it feels not complete,“Horner concluded.