Max Verstappen feared that the rain that fell at the very end of Q3 in Austin would ruin the lap that ultimately put him on pole.
Qualifying proved to be an extremely tight affair, with little to choose between Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez in the closing stages.
After the first runs, it was the Mexican on pole just ahead of the Dutchman, but the Mercedes man went faster than both on his final flying lap.
The Red Bull pair both had one final chance to get back ahead of their rival, and their lives were made more difficult by the fact that rain started to fall while they were still out.
It ultimately didn’t cost Verstappen as he claimed pole while Perez ended up in P3, but the 24-year-old feared the worst before crossing the line.
“In Q3, my first lap wasn’t amazing,” he told reporters afterwards.
“But then in the final lap it also started spitting. [There was] a bit of drizzle in the last sector especially, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to hang on to my time.
“But it was enough and, of course, to put the lap time in and be on pole position, and also to be P1 and P3 as a team, I think it was a very strong performance.”
Fastest gun slinger in the Texas shootout! 🤠🔥 pic.twitter.com/EBkNYby9Al
— Red Bull Racing Honda (@redbullracing) October 23, 2021
At the start of the weekend, securing pole looked a distant dream for Verstappen and his team, with Mercedes looking comfortably stronger in FP1.
However, Red Bull have topped every session since then, and he puts it down to an improved understanding of the tyres.
“I wasn’t very happy yesterday and of course I wasn’t entirely happy with today but we definitely went into the right direction, so that helped,” he said.
“After FP1 I was a bit like ‘oh, okay, it’s quite a big gap’, but then slowly we just improved a bit and today we seemed to jump ahead. Of course that’s a great effort from the whole team.
“After Turkey I think we weren’t entirely happy with the performance there but of course that’s quite a different track with the tarmac and also feeling as well.
“At the end of the day are the only thing that are touching the ground are the tyres and they have a lot of different behaviours all year. So if you can find a bit there it can maybe make a bit of difference, also at this track.”
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