Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has admitted he thought Lewis Hamilton was about to lose pole position before Max Verstappen crashed into the wall in a dramatic qualifying session at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Verstappen was approximately four-tenths up on title rival Hamilton entering the final corner as he pushed his car to the limit but the Red Bull driver locked up going into the final corner and hit the wall as he tried to keep it on the track.
The Dutchman was aiming to beat Hamilton’s time after the Mercedes driver set provisional pole but his crash means he was unable to improve upon his previous lap and he will start Sunday’s race third on the grid, with Valtteri Bottas claiming second.
Hamilton is eight points behind Verstappen in the drivers’ standings and victory tomorrow at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit would see the championship go down to the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix next week.
Reacting to Verstappen’s crash, Wolff told Sky Sports. “He was up by half a second and pole was basically gone. Then he ran wide and hit the wall and we end up one and two, which is a big, big, advantage ahead of tomorrow. It’s just crazy.”
“It was important to keep it together and keep attacking. You see with Valtteri with his lap, that is a big difference to be there with the front-row lockout.
“I hope we can take it into tomorrow. I think they [Red Bull] concentrated on preparing for a one-lap. If we have a tiny bit of advantage tomorrow, who knows.”
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