Verstappen Confesses He Gained Advantage With Help From Tow Buddy Hulkenberg

Sunday, 19 May 2024 at 13:00
verstappen max redbull rbcp185
Max Verstappen qualified on the pole ahead of the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, but he revealed he wouldn't have done so without Nico Hulkenberg's help.
Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen achieved eighth consecutive pole during the Saturday qualifying at Imola Circuit. With this pole, he equaled Ayrton Senna's record for the most consecutive poles.
However, it was probably the most challenging one of the season so far, and it was clear from the Dutchman's reaction, who was really hyped on the team radio right after he finished the lap.
Red Bull didn't have the best start to the weekend, and it seemed like the team lacked some pace compared to Ferrari and McLaren.
Ultimately, though, the Austrian team made some progress going into qualifying, and the triple World Champion showed why he's paid the big bucks.
Not only did Max Verstappen put together a fantastic lap, but he crucially timed it well enough to take advantage of the slipstream from Nico Hulkenberg's Haas, which gained him more than one-tenth of a second. He told after qualifying:

"We were tow buddies out there. In Q2 I gave him a tow to Turn 17. Then he gave me a tow to Turn 2. I think I did arrive a bit too quick for my liking because I did miss Turn 2 a little bit, so I did gain and then I did lose a bit in 2."

"Overall, I think it did help me a little bit. But when you are struggling the whole weekend and then finally it's coming around, you have to look for these little advantages to try and stay ahead and it worked out beautifully."

The one tenth that Verstappen gained was critical for the pole because Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri in P2 and P3 were less than one tenth of a second behind. Reflecting on the tow he gave to Verstappen, Hulkenberg told Sky Sports after qualifying:

"Max and I, we've been helping each other out this quali. He helped me a few times in Q2 and I returned the favour here [in Q3]. So yeah, you need the support of colleagues sometimes."