MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Max Verstappen looked like he’d been sucking lemons after Saturday’s Mexican Grand Prix qualifying while Red Bull team mate Daniel Ricciardo was savouring something much, much sweeter.
The Dutch 21-year-old had dominated every free practice session and was set to become the youngest Formula One driver ever to start on pole position when Ricciardo swept in and grabbed it at the finish.
Verstappen, who turned 21 at the end of September, is already the sport’s youngest winner and may not get a better chance to beat Sebastian Vettel’s 2008 pole record of 21 years and 73 days.
That hurt, with the youngster describing qualifying as “crap” afterwards. But Ricciardo did not try and hide his delight.
His long and triumphant whoop over the team radio, and some typically colourful Aussie language afterwards, said it all.
The Australian has suffered seven retirements in 18 races this season and his decision to leave Red Bull for Renault at the end of the year had left some wondering whether he was paying a price.
Instead, for only the third time in his career, he will start from pole with every chance of taking a third win of the season after China and Monaco.
“I’m holding a lot in. I let a bit out once I heard I got pole. But yeah, I held a lot in, I’ve got to save some energy for tomorrow,” he told reporters after calming down a bit.
“Just super happy. It’s been a while since pole. It’s been a while since we had a pretty good weekend in general and we’ve been quick all weekend, from the start.
“And from the team’s point of view to get a one-two in qualifying is awesome.”
Team boss Christian Horner agreed Ricciardo had pulled off a stunner, with the team locking out the front row for the first time in the V6 turbo hybrid era that started in 2014.
“It was a mighty last lap from him. In the second and third sectors he just nailed it. It sort of came from nowhere, really,” said Horner.
“You can hear how happy he was on the slowdown lap ... same car, same opportunity and Daniel did the better job in Q3 (final qualifying),” he added.
“He deserves a pole and all credit to him.”
Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Neville Dalton