Max Verstappen concedes that his final run in the Sprint Shootout “wasn’t particularly great” despite bagging pole position for the United States Grand Prix Sprint race.

The Dutchman had clocked a time good enough to usurp Charles Leclerc for pole in Friday’s qualifying hour but a track limits breach at Turn 19 dropped him to sixth.

However, on this occasion, Verstappen stayed within the confines of the track, extended at three corners overnight by the FIA, to edge Leclerc to top spot by 0.055s.

That ensured Verstappen, who had spun in SQ2, headed the times in all three stages, but the three-time World Champion admits that his run to pole wasn’t his finest ever.

“The whole day in qualifying I think we were quite competitive,” Verstappen reflected. “I think the last lap wasn’t particularly great but still on pole.

“So that means the car was working quite well and it’s going to be an exciting afternoon where you can see a lot of different cars being very close to each other.”

The intervention of the Sprint format again this weekend meant the drivers were only allocated one practice hour before heading into yesterday’s main qualifying session.

Verstappen believes the omission of any long-run data will provide unpredictability as the drivers negotiate unchartered territory during the 19-lap Sprint race encounter.

“You don’t really know what’s going to happen,” he highlighted. “That’s why it’s all going to be a bit of a question mark.

“Overall, I do think that normally in the race we are quite okay, but nevertheless this track is always quite demanding.”

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19. 21.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Sprint Day.

Aside from the Sprint format issuing reduced qualifying segments, the strain placed on the tyres at the Circuit of the Americas saw every driver in SQ3 only conduct one run.

Therefore, Verstappen is convinced that there will be a high degree of tyre saving required throughout the Sprint later today.

“Tyre management is always quite key around here, the wear is always quite high because of all the high-speed corners,” he explained. “Then of course you’re having to deal with the very low speed where you need traction, so it’s going to be tough.

“It’s not going to be 19 laps of full throttle or something like that.”

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