The leader of the standings missed virtually the entire first session due to a gearbox problem which stopped his red bull.
In the second practice, which was won by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, Verstappen took eighth place with a loss of almost seven tenths.
But Verstappen was fastest in Saturday afternoon’s qualifying and followed up on his home track pole position from last year, beating second-placed Leclerc by just 21 thousandths of a second. Even Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz, who lost 92 thousandths, came within one tenth of Verstappen.
Verstappen is very satisfied with the result of the qualification. “Especially after yesterday, when we had a tough day,” he said.
“Overnight the team and I did a good job to turn it around. Today we had a fast car again, but it was very tight here. The qualifying round here is crazy.”
According to Verstappen, Red Bull made significant changes to the car overnight to compete with Ferrari and Mercedes.
“We changed a lot because yesterday the second practice session was quite hectic to prepare the car, but today it was a pleasure to drive it again.”
Perez spun around
The second driver of Red Bull, Sergio Pérez, did not finish his last attempt.
The Mexican couldn’t make it through the penultimate corner, hit the curb on the exit and spun. He also thwarted the final attempts of the Mercedes drivers who were following him.
Pérez took fifth place in qualifying with a loss of 735 thousandths to Verstappen.
“It was a shame, I was in a good round. When I was accelerating, I was quite aggressive, I touched the gravel and unfortunately I lost control of the rear of the car,” said Pérez.
“I was a good three tenths faster than the previous time. It looked like I could get another tenth or tenth and a half and I’d be in fourth, maybe even third. Tomorrow I will hopefully have a good start and fight.”