Max Verstappen enjoys ‘special’ day as he matches Ayrton Senna pole record

Max Verstappen said it was “special” to match Ayrton Senna’s record of eight consecutive pole positions for Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

At the Imola venue which claimed Senna’s life 30 years ago, Verstappen fended off McLaren’s challenge to draw level with the great Brazilian.

Oscar Piastri took second – just 0.074 seconds behind Verstappen – with Lando Norris, who broke his race victory duck in Miami a fortnight ago, only 0.091 sec adrift.

However, Piastri was later penalised three grid places for impeding Haas’ Kevin Magnussen in Q1 and dropped to fifth, promoting Norris to the front row of the grid.

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz qualified fourth and fifth respectively for Ferrari at the Italian team’s home event, but will start third and fourth as a result of Piastri’s penalty, with George Russell sixth – half-a-second behind – and two places ahead of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Senna’s one-lap streak started for McLaren in Jerez in 1988 and ended in Phoenix the following season.

But at the race marking the three-decade anniversary of his death here, Verstappen set a blistering pace to drive into the history books.

“It is very special,” said Verstappen on equalling Senna’s feat. “It is 30 years since he passed away at this track, so I am very, very pleased to get pole here.

“In a way, it is a nice memory to him. He was an incredible Formula One driver, especially in qualifying. It is a great day for me and a great day for the team.”


Verstappen headed into the final qualifying runs with a slender 0.073-sec margin over Norris, but he pulled out all the stops to increase his advantage and become only the second driver – after Senna’s great rival Alain Prost in 1993 – to start a season with seven poles from seven races.

Verstappen has won four of the six rounds so far, but McLaren’s impressive pace suggests he will not have it all his own way in Sunday’s 63-lap race.

The Dutch driver struggled with his upgraded Red Bull throughout practice but was able to turn it around for the big occasion.

“I know Max hasn’t had the smoothest of weekends but if anyone doubted he or Red Bull wouldn’t come back in qualifying, they are a bit stupid,” said Norris.

“I expected them to be back on track. It is annoying to miss out to him again but we are close. If we can keep them on their toes, and have a performance like we did in Miami, then of course we can be optimistic.”

Over at Mercedes, their raft of upgrades introduced here has failed to bring them any closer to the front, with Hamilton eight tenths back.

Fernando Alonso will start last-but-one following an unusually scrappy day. Qualifying appeared in doubt after he crashed out of final practice and sustained significant damage to the rear of his machine.

But although his car was put back together in time for him to take part, the Spaniard scuppered his chances after he ran through the gravel on his hot lap to leave him at the back of the field.

Only Logan Sargeant will line up behind Alonso after the Williams driver’s best time was deleted for exceeding track limits. Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez, who like Alonso hit the wall in practice, failed to make it out of Q2, qualifying 11th.


No votes yet.
Please wait...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *