Verstappen equals Senna’s all-time record of consecutive pole positions

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Max Verstappen said it was “very special” to equal Ayrton Senna’s all-time record of eight consecutive pole positions at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver pipped both McLaren drivers Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris to take pole, his seventh in seven races this season, by less than 0.1 seconds.

Verstappen’s achievement comes 30 years after Senna’s death on the same Imola circuit, following an accident in the San Marino Grand Prix on May 1, 1994.

Verstappen said: “It’s 30 years since he passed away at this track. So, of course, very pleased to get pole here.

“And in a way, it’s a nice memory to him. He was an incredible Formula 1 driver, especially in qualifying laps as well. So, yeah, great day for me, great day for the team.”

Verstappen was just 0.074 seconds quicker than Piastri, who pipped Norris by 0.017secs with the final lap of the session.

Piastri was later given a three-place grid penalty for impeding Haas driver Kevin Magnussen and the Australian will start the race fifth, behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

The runs of Verstappen and Senna both span two seasons – the Brazilian’s was across the end of 1988 and start of 1989; Verstappen’s dates back to the final race of last season in Abu Dhabi.

But despite such a strong run, Verstappen said his pole was unexpected as Red Bull had been struggling to make their car behave to his liking in all three practice sessions before qualifying.

Verstappen said: “I honestly went into qualifying and I was like: ‘Well, if we can get a top five, I would be happy,’ because this weekend has been really difficult.

“In the last couple of years, this has definitely been one of the best (turnarounds), I would say. It’s been a while that I’ve felt like we’ve been that far off.”

His struggles leading up to qualifying make it difficult to predict form in Sunday’s race, which starts at 14:00 BST. In Friday practice, Leclerc was the fastest driver in the race-simulation runs, followed by the McLarens, and Verstappen was a long way off the pace.

Verstappen said: “Yesterday was terrible in long run and short run. Naturally, I think with the balance that I had in qualifying, it will be better. But I have no clue against McLaren. They looked very strong yesterday in their long run. So hopefully, yeah, we can do something similar.”

Norris and Piastri both warned about the difficulty of overtaking around Imola, a fact exacerbated by the decision of governing body the FIA to shorten the zone in which drivers can use the the DRS overtaking aid by 100 metres this year. (BBC)

 

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