Now that’s what I call taking the bull by the horns! Red Bull has once again laid down the gauntlet for championship rivals Mercedes in qualifying. Meanwhile, yet another grid penalty for Valtteri Bottas has seen his teammate, Lewis Hamilton, well and truly stuck in a Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez sandwich.
Here’s how Red Bull managed to clinch pole position at a track where a Mercedes pole seemed an inevitability.
VERSTAPPEN NEARLY LOSES POLE BECAUSE OF DRIZZLE
Taking his ninth pole position (and his eighth the last 11 races), Max will be thanking his lucky stars that a last-minute burst of rain didn’t stop him from topping the times by over two tenths.
— Red Bull Racing Honda (@redbullracing) October 23, 2021
“In the final lap, it started like spitting, like a bit of drizzle in the last sector especially,” Max told F1 after Qualifying.
“So I wasn’t sure if I was going to hang on to my lap time, but it was enough and of course to put the lap time in and be on pole position, but also to be P1 and P3 as a team I think was a very strong performance.”
This rain in an F1 session business is becoming a bit of a theme, isn’t it…
PEREZ’S UNWANTED RECORD CONTINUES
What could have been for Checo, as his record for the most race starts without a pole position continues. Starting his 208th Grand Prix tomorrow, the Mexican almost derailed his teammate’s plans with a stellar performance in qualifying.
Max clocked in a 1:33.199 to take provisional pole to the absolute joy of the crowd. Those cheers soon turned to the other half of the Red Bull garage only moments later when the Mexican jumped to the top of the timing sheets by only 0.019s.
Unfortunately for him, Max managed to snatch back pole in dying seconds, and Sergio now lines up in P3, just behind Hamilton.
“We were really close on that final lap, and I think we did a great job as a team. Unfortunately, my final lap time wasn’t as good throughout the lap,” Sergio told F1 after the session.
“I improved through the first sector quite a bit, and I wasn’t able to keep it just progressively. I think the rain hit me a bit too hard in the final sector, there were spots of rain, and I lost a bit of grip in two corners, and I could just see my delta going off.”
RED BULL TAKE FIRST COTA POLE SINCE 2013
Max’s ninth pole position of the season won’t be the only record team boss Christian Horner will be happy about as Red Bull brought Mercedes’ streak of United States Grand Prix pole positions to an end.
No other team has taken pole at the Circuit of the Americas in the turbo-hybrid era. The last time a non-Mercedes car achieved P1 was all the way back in 2013 with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, on his way to his fourth world championship title.
Who will be taking the win on Sunday? Let us know in the comments below.