Red Bull warned they need Max Verstappen as Sergio Perez falters

Dutch ace Max Verstappen claimed pole position by almost six-tenths of a second at Suzuka on Saturday.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has hailed Max Verstappen’s pole lap at the Japanese Grand Prix as “something very special”, with the Dutchman having obliterated the competition.

Verstappen secured yet another pole position by almost six-tenths of a second ahead of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris, who claimed second and third on the grid for Sunday’s race.

The reigning World Champion’s pole lap was a thing of beauty, with every corner having been driven with perfection.

After Red Bull’s blip at the Singapore Grand Prix, Verstappen is very much back to his best in Suzuka and is the favourite for victory once again.

Want to work in Formula 1? Browse the latest F1 job vacancies

“I think what we’ve witnessed today is something very special, to be honest,” Horner told Sky Sports F1.

“Just have a look at Turn 5, that first sector was absolutely mighty.”

It wasn’t just Horner who was left stunned by Verstappen’s brilliance, with ex-F1 driver Karun Chandhok having reacted in the same way.

Chandhok was “breathless” after the Dutchman’s lap and admitted that it was “one of the greatest” laps in the history of the sport.

Article continues below

“Honestly, I’m still breathless from watching that, because I think that was one of the greatest qualifyings that we’ve seen in F1 history,” Chandhok said

“There’s not much left on the table – the detail with which he drove, pinching little bits on the entry to Spoon curve, 130R not using all the way…

“He thought about every metre. To me, that’s a driver who’s ahead of the car. Christian was saying that’s one of the special laps, and he’s right.”

Whilst Verstappen was sensational, Sergio Perez was again disappointing.

READ: Sergio Perez will leave Red Bull at end of 2023

Perez could only salvage fifth on the grid for Sunday’s race, meaning that he wouldn’t even be on the front row if Verstappen wasn’t on the grid.

The Mexican’s qualifying performance has raised questions as to whether the RB19 is just being driven perfectly by Verstappen or whether Perez isn’t extracting the most from the car, something which has been queried several times this season.

“If [Christian] didn’t have Max in the car, they’d be on the second row of the grid,” Chandhok noted.