Max Verstappen claimed the final pole position of the 2023 season on Saturday at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which won Red Bull team principal Christian Horner €500.
Ahead of qualifying, Verstappen certainly wasn’t the favourite to clinch P1, with Red Bull having not been the quickest throughout free practice.
As a result, Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko bet Horner €500 euros that the three-time World Champion wouldn’t qualify on the front row.
Of course, Verstappen did much more than that, to the surprise of Marko but to the delight of Horner.
Horner informed the Dutchman over the radio that he’d won a €500 bet with the 80-year-old, something which surprised Verstappen as it seems that Marko rarely makes an inaccurate prediction.
“Helmut lost a bet? What world are we living in?” Verstappen jokingly asked over the radio.
Whilst he was delighted to secure pole position at the Yas Marina Circuit, Verstappen was seemingly surprised to have done enough for pole given how challenging the weekend had been ahead of the session.
The cooler track temperatures appeared to work in the RB19’s favour, as Verstappen explained how the car felt a “bit more connected” when qualifying got underway.
“Very weird,” Verstappen said of his pole position, as reported by GPBlog.com.
“We definitely improved the car for qualifying and from lap one it all seemed a bit more together and we could definitely push more. Around here already if you have little slides it can cost you a lot of lap time and that is what was happening in practice. But in qualifying it was a bit more connected.”
Verstappen winning for the 19th time of the season on Sunday would be the perfect way for him to end what’s been a supreme year for him and would cap a nice farewell to the RB19.
Sunday will be Verstappen’s final race in the unbelievably dominant car and is “very proud” of what himself and the team have achieved this year.
He’s unsure, though, if victory on Sunday will be possible.
“I have no clue how good we are going to be in the race, normally it’s quite decent,” Verstappen said.
“It has been a very special season, we have been enjoying it a lot and we are very proud what we have achieved so far this year.”