Verstappen feared late drizzle would scupper US GP pole chance

Max Verstappen wasn’t sure that he would snatch pole position from Lewis Hamilton’s grasp at Formula 1’s United States Grand Prix after drizzle started falling on his final run.

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The Red Bull driver was locked in an ultra-tight fight with his F1 championship rival for the top spot throughout qualifying, with little separating them.

After the first runs in Q3, Red Bull held the advantage with Sergio Perez topping the times ahead of Verstappen and Hamilton.

But for the second runs, Hamilton went out first and managed to move to the top of the timesheets as he extracted more pace from his Mercedes.

Verstappen needed a supreme effort to respond but, with spots of rain arriving for the close of qualifying, he feared that he had missed the best window of track conditions.

“In Q3, my first lap wasn't amazing, but then in the final lap it also started spitting,” explained the Dutchman.

“[There was] a bit of drizzle in the last sector especially, so I wasn't sure if I was going to hang on to my time. But it was enough and, of course, to put the lap time in and be on pole position, and also to be P1 and P3 as a team, I think it was a very strong performance.”

Perez had been in contention to grab his first F1 pole position but reckoned that he lost the opportunity to stay on top thanks to the rain.

“We were really close on that final lap,” said the Mexican. “I think we did a great job as a team. Unfortunately, my final attempt wasn't as good throughout the lap.

“I improved through the first sector quite a bit but I wasn't able to just keep it progressively. I think the rain was a bit too hard in the final sector, there were spots of rain. I lost a bit of grip in two corners and I could just see my delta going off.”

But despite the qualifying results setting up an intriguing grid for the race tomorrow, Perez reckoned the predictions of high tyre degradation meant that the fight for the win was wide open.

“I think the qualifying position is not too relevant,” he said. “I think tomorrow we're going to have a very long race. There will be a lot of degradation with these tyres, but I'm looking forward to it.”

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