Max Verstappen US GP disaster just avoided in blow to Lewis Hamilton – ‘Always stressful’

F1 preview: A lap at the United States Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen suffered a crack in his rear wing before claiming pole at the United States Grand Prix. Verstappen just pipped rival Lewis Hamilton to pole in Texas, with Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez qualifying in third. But the drama started before the first qualifying session even began.

Red Bull mechanics were seen working on the rear of Verstappen’s car shortly before Q1.

And team principal Christian Horner has described the stress an unusual crack caused.

Fortunately for Verstappen, they managed to solve the issue just in time – meaning he was able to drive as normal and beat Hamilton to pole.

“There is always something going on, there is never a stress-free session,” Horner told Sky F1.

“But I don’t know whether Max hit something because there was quite a crack and nothing on the other car or on any of the other wings, so we got permission just to beef it up a bit on both cars, so we’ll have a close look at it tonight.”

Verstappen heads into the race six points clear of Hamilton at the top of the driver standings.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas will start down in ninth after a change of engine led to a five-place grid penalty.

That means Hamilton will be outnumbered by the Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Perez, a prospect that excites Horner.

“We know Checo [Perez] races so well, so qualifying has been his struggle this year,” he added.

“So he is right there, it’s the first time that we have got two cars against one, it’s the first time in the hybrid era that anybody other than Mercedes has qualified on pole here, so another milestone for us.

“It’s tough to follow here so you definitely want to lead into Turn 1, I think it’s going to be a grandstand start at Turn 1.

“But at least we’ve got two guys starting at the front of the field.

“If we can get a clean Sector 1, you hope by the time you get to Turn 11 you’ve got that little bit of a gap, so that is going to be crucial.

“And if Max can see the yellow helmet of Sergio in his mirrors I think he would be a lot happier with that.”

Meanwhile, Hamilton insisted he did all he could to finish ahead of Verstappen.

“I gave it everything today – it was a bit of a struggle through qualifying,” said Hamilton.

“”I think from P1 onwards we kind of fell back a little bit and those guys [Red Bull] were incredibly quick.

“I was happy with my last lap, of course there’s always areas we can improve but I think that was pretty much everything we had.”

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