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Max Verstappen

Verstappen 'pumped up' after 'unbelievable' Imola pole

The world champion stormed to an eight consecutive pole position in F1, despite being on the back foot on Friday.

Verstappen Quali Imola
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Max Verstappen was left "pumping" after an "unbelievable" qualifying lap at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix earned him a record-equalling pole position.

On Friday, Verstappen struggled in the RB20, believing the day could not get "any worse" following balance and set-up issues as Ferrari looked favourite for pole position at its home track. 

However, McLaren emerged as Verstappen's closest challenger during qualifying, with Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris both ultimately within a tenth of the Dutch driver, who matched records set by both Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost with his second pole at Imola.

Describing the challenge of a qualifying lap at the tight, gravel-laden Imola, Verstappen was full of adrenaline.

"It's been a really difficult weekend so far, and even this morning [was a struggle], so I am incredibly happy to be on pole here," Verstappen explained.

"I didn't expect it but we made some changes before qualifying and they seemed to make it feels a bit better, and I could push a bit harder.

"This track is unbelievable, and a qualifying lap, to be on the limit here, close to the gravel - I touched the gravel in the last corner - yeah, I am still pumping, the internal heat is very high."

Matching Senna

In grabbing pole at Imola, Verstappen took his eighth straight P1 grand prix start, matching Senna's all-time record of eight set in 1988 and 1989, 30 years on from the great Brazilian's death at the track. 

Verstappen also equalled Prost's record of seven straight poles from the start of a season set in 1993 with P1, as he reflected on matching Senna

"Of course it has been a great start to the year, but it is very special," he said.

"It's 30 years since he passed away at this track, so of course I am very pleased to get the pole here, and it is a nice memory to him.

"He was an incredible Formula 1 driver, especially in qualifying lap, and it is a great day for me and a great day for the team. I am very happy."

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RESULTS 2024 F1 Spanish Grand Prix - Qualifying