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Max Verstappen

Marko dazzled by 'magical' Verstappen pole

Helmut Marko had considerable praise for Max Verstappen following the Dutchman's unexpected Emilia Romagna Grand Prix pole position.

Verstappen Quali Imola
To news overview © XPBimages

Max Verstappen's pole position for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was hailed as "magical" by Red Bull advisor Dr. Helmut Marko, following the team's shocking performance on Friday. 

Red Bull endured arguably its worst Friday since the current regulations were introduced at Imola, with both Verstappen and Sergio Perez having been off the pace of Ferrari and McLaren. 

Even in third practice on Saturday morning, Red Bull still looked not quite in the fight for pole position. 

However, the reigning world champion defied the odds to claim a stunning pole position, matching Ayrton Senna's record for eight consecutive poles. As well as that, he matched Alain Prost's record for claiming the first seven pole positions in a season.

Marko was left stunned by Verstappen's pole, to the extent that he warned the Dutchman ahead of qualifying that something truly incredible was required to defeat McLaren and Ferrari.

"I did not expect this," Marko told Sky DE. "I told Max beforehand that we needed a magic lap. We saw that one! 

"His race engineer added to that by saying he would bet against a pole for Max. That was me, though, I'll admit honestly. It did work out that way and the first sector was distinctive. There he picked up two tenths."

Perez performance 'unfortunate'

Whilst Verstappen unlocked the RB20's potential, Perez was embarrassingly eliminated in Q2. The Mexican driver could only manage 11th in qualifying and starts the race as the lowest Red Bull family driver. 

Both RB driver's progressed safely to Q3, with Yuki Tsunoda having gone onto qualify in a hugely impressive seventh. 

Saturday in general was disappointing for Perez, as the Red Bull driver crashed in third practice which triggered a red flag. 

According to Marko, Perez's Q2 exit was caused by the driver being surprised in the level of grip he received from a fresh set of soft tyres, compared to the used tyres he used initially in the second part of qualifying. 

"Checo had an unfortunate qualifying," added Marko. "He first drove with used tyres and then was surprised by the grip. It showed. 

"He lost three tenths at Turn 7, but we don't have to laugh at the fact that he was unfortunate."

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