The shock of a retire can surprise many, if happens to a top team; a double can open the mouths of many habitués of the Paddock. What happened to the Maranello team can turn the second part of the season steeper than expected: reliability issues cannot be tolerated in circuits like Singapore or Monza if the squad wants to shorten distance to Mercedes. But it can open to a Red Bull comeback as the second force for the rest of calendar.
Surely the alarm hasn’t started today, with a general and probably political crisis well underway from the pre-season tests; but Horner and Marko, after claiming more power from Honda partner can now start to look at the second place in championship more at their ease than before. The sharks are hunting having tasted the Red blood.
Max Verstappen wanted to build another good weekend after Vettel ruined his podium placement at Silverstone: he started well right from the first two practice sessions, being the first car to hit the track. At evening he was still claiming some “fine tuning” in order to find the optimum balance of his car; he should have worked in the right direction this morning for claiming the second slot behind Lewis Hamilton:
The front row of the grid is a good achievement for us and Honda on this track. It’s been a good day and we definitely found a bit more performance overnight. This morning I was quite happy with the car and also in Q1. I had a little issue in Q2 with a mode setting and it was a shame not to qualify on the medium tyre but once we changed a setting in the pits everything was fine. Of course, we have to take into account that Ferrari had a problem with both cars and they would also have been fighting for pole, but you have to be there when it counts and we maximized everything to be on the front row. I’m on a different race strategy to Mercedes which is not exactly what we planned but we are in the fight and we will see how much difference the softer tyre makes at the start. We’re close and we have a good shot tomorrow as we have a good race car. At the moment we cannot judge how the weather will be but we will give it everything and a bit of rain could spice things up
On the other side, Pierre Gasly couldn’t probably make it harder for his situation colliding with the barriers on the last turn in FP2: being under observation from Helmut “Golden Eye” Marko, the crash could mean he’s currently at the limit, not managing the emotive side of the thick air around him. A 4th position is the result he could claimed from the single lap performance (best qualifying of his career), just behind both Mercedes and teammate. Not bad but only quicker than Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa and 4/10 slower than Max:
It was a good qualifying and I managed to do some decent laps so I’m happy with P4. The mechanics had a really long night and it’s never nice to see them working flat out to repair the car, so it’s great to qualify on the second row and thank them in this way. Yesterday, I was pushing and just went over the limit. These things happen but it was good to recover today and tomorrow should be exciting with the chance of rain. There are still some areas for me to improve and things I could have done better, but things are coming together and I’m happy. Now we need to focus on tomorrow and the race where my aim is to move forwards. The weather forecast looks very unpredictable but I’m from the North of France where it rains a lot so I’m used to this. Looking at Max’s race pace, we should be pretty good tomorrow but anything can happen as we saw with last year’s race. Clearly, the Team is pushing massively, we have had good development and it was a big boost with Max’s race win in Austria. I think in terms of development, things are going really well, we’re still a bit behind, but we’re closing in on those in front