Verstappen “very happy” to claim his 12th and final Pole of the 2023 F1 season

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Despite struggling with the setup of his RB 19 earlier in the weekend, Max Verstappen stormed to pole for the 12th time in 2023 and the 33rd of his career, with the Dutchman beating out Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc by just over a tenth of a second.

Verstappen celebreates his 12th pole of 2023
Photo Credit: Red Bull Racing

Despite Red Bull struggling to dial in the car during qualifying, with Verstappen making changes to the suspension up to the end of final practice on Saturday, the Dutchman once again managed to claim Pole, beating Charles Leclerc in Q3.

“From lap one it seemed a bit more together…”

Following his impressive qualifying performance, Verstappen admitted to the media the weekend so far had been “weird” as he struggled with the car setup. He explained that the team had managed to mostly iron out an issue with sliding which allowed him to recover pace from the beginning of qualifying onwards.

“Very weird,” he said of the weekend up to qualifying “The whole weekend so far has been a bit of a struggle. We definitely improved the car for qualifying and from lap one it seemed a bit more together and we could push more. So of course, very happy to be on pole.

“Around here, with the tyres, you have little slides and it can cost you a lot of lap time. That was happening to us in practice but in qualifying it was a bit more connected.”

“You’re never one hundred percent sure.”

Elaborating on the struggles the team faced during practice and the gamble needed in selecting the correct setup, Verstappen complimented the professionalism and skill of his race engineer GP Lambiase, as they worked to improve the weaknesses of the car. Verstappen explained that his engineer had looked at many setup options before settling on the eventual decision.

The champion also joked that Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko should know better than to bet against him, referencing a comment made by Christain Horner over team radio at the end of the session as the team principal informed Verstappen he had won him €500.

“Well first of all I think Helmut [Marko] learned his lesson, never bet against me,” Verstappen joked. “Of course there’s always a bit of a gamble because you don’t know. We already tried a lot of things on the car which didn’t really seem to solve the problem.

“I think GP [Lambiase] stayed calm and he definitely went through a lot of options, and then with my feedback he came up with a very good setup for qualifying. So I was very happy with that, but of course it’s always a bit of a gamble, you’re never one hundred percent sure.”