Max Verstappen was set to become the youngest ever pole winner in Formula 1 history during qualifying for the Mexican Grand Prix on Saturday, but Daniel Ricciardo forced media to spike their ‘history-making’ stories and instead report on how he robbed his 21-year-old teammate of the accolade.
After dominating every session from FP1 on Friday morning until Q2 in qualifying on Saturday, Verstappen looked set to do the business but out of the blue, his teammate delivered a stunning lap to deny him by two-hundredths of a second.
The Dutchman was fuming when he vented to reporters immediately after the race, “The whole qualifying was crap, we had the same problems as FP2, the engine braking is not like I wanted and rear locking in the car. We tried to make the best of it, I thought we had enough but it’s still good to be second.”
Later Verstappen added, “It’s really disappointing to be consistently the fastest all weekend, and then not when it counts. I felt comfortable going into qualifying but I soon experienced similar issues that I had felt in FP2, the rear was locking while I was off throttle during cornering.”
“I felt like I couldn’t push the car to its limit, which you need to do in Q3 as it is the most important session. I was surprised to be on top of the timesheet at the start of Q3 but in the end, it wasn’t enough to take the pole.”
“The issue should be less influential tomorrow which means we can both have a good race. Given today’s frustration, we are still in really strong shape going into Sunday, it’s just a shame to miss the pole.”
The fact we have locked out the front row for the first time in years is a brilliant result for the Team, you can’t beat first and second,” he added.
Team chief Christian Horner was as shocked as anyone in the paddock by the unexpected turn of events but delighted to have both Red Bulls on the front row of the grid, certainly not in the order anyone but maybe Ricciardo expected.
“Where did that come from?” asked Horner with a big smile when interviewed on Sky F1. “It was just mighty, just absolutely perfect. To have two Red Bulls on the front row for the first time since Austin 2013 is just fantastic.”
“It’s the same car so the same opportunity. Daniel did a better job in Q3, and he deserves it,” pointed out Horner in defiance of Verstappen’s complaints.
Mexico presented probably the last opportunity, in the final three races, where Red Bull will have the kind of advantage they have enjoyed at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez where pole is possible.
The record for the youngest pole sitter is Sebastian Vettel who did so aged 21 years and 72 days, when he qualified in first place for Toro Rosso at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix which he went on to win a day later, also his first F1 victory.