Verstappen: I guess I still know how to drive

After a week in which he faced many questions regarding his driving style, Max Verstappen silenced his critics by first dominating all three free practice sessions of the Canadian Grand Prix weekend and then powering to an unlikely third place on the grid.

All this despite his Red Bull lacking the ‘party mode’ that gave his rivals about a half a second edge in qualifying.

As he crossed the line to claim third on the grid, he said over the radio: “I guess I still know how to drive!”

And added: “Not bad, we can race from here…”

It was a big effort by the 20-year-old Dutchman amid big pressure not to bin it as he did in Monaco two weeks earlier. This time out, not only in qualy but also throughout the three free practice sessions he never put a foot wrong. Furthermore, in practice, he also showed impressive race pace.

Unlike the Ferrari and Mercedes drivers who made their Q2 runs using the Pirelli Ultrasofts, Verstappen and teammate Daniel Ricciardo will start the race with the Hypersofts – the softest compound in the Pirelli range.

Red Bull clearly confident that their car will be kinder to the less familiar albeit faster tyre than their rivals, setting the stage for a very interesting strategy contest among the Big Three on race day in Montreal.

Verstappen was understandably upbeat afterwards, “I’m very happy with this weekend so far. The car has been working really well.”

“We know that in qualifying we are missing top speed but to be third I think is great for us. I think especially in the race we can do a really good job.”

Asked if he had a race winning car at his disposal, Verstappen replied, “I think we have. Starting on the softer tyre is a benefit here, it’s quite slippery on the track. During the race I think we are anyway competitive.”

For teammate Ricciardo who had the upper hand during the weekend in Monaco, it was a case of role reversal as the Australian does not seem to have an answer to his teammate’s pace so far this weekend.

Although he was a tad quicker than Verstappen in Q2, Ricciardo was a tenth and a bit shy of his teammate’s best when it mattered, namely on his final run in Q2.