Max Verstappen admitted that he did not expect to finish as high as fourth in his first qualifying session as a Red Bull Racing driver in Barcelona on Saturday.
Ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, Red Bull announced that Verstappen, 18, would be moving up to its senior team with immediate effect from Toro Rosso, with Daniil Kvyat moving in the opposite direction.
Verstappen made an instant impact in practice, finishing within two-tenths of a second of new teammate Daniel Ricciardo in both FP1 and FP2.
The Dutchman even outpaced Ricciardo in Q1 and Q2 before ultimately being edged out in the final session, but still managed to qualify an excellent fourth.
The result not only marked the best in qualifying of Verstappen’s Formula 1 career so far, but also matched the highest starting position for a Dutch driver in the sport’s history.
“I enjoyed the qualifying, it was getting better with every lap,” Verstappen said.
“For me the target today was to enjoy myself and I had a good feeling in the car. I focused on what I had to do and it worked.
“I’m happy, I didn’t expect to adapt to the car so quickly. I didn’t expect to be on the second row, so it’s a positive feeling.
“We are close to a podium and hopefully we can keep our positions in tomorrow’s race.”
The Spanish Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7am ET on Sunday.
Porsche will skip Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with its two GTLM cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after three positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
That resulted in Porsche choosing to pull out of the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany, electing to avoid sending any team members as a precautionary measure.
Porsche Motorsport announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 decision also would apply at Mid-Ohio to its No. 911 and No. 12 teams.
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Three of Porsche’s four IMSA GTLM drivers — Laurens Vanthoor, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy — also were racing in Le Mans. The trio has remained isolated in Europe and won’t be allowed to travel.
“Based on yesterday’s decision that no employee or racing driver of our Le Mans team will participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have today decided that this ruling will also apply to the upcoming IWSC race in Mid-Ohio,” Fritz Enzinger, vice president for Porsche Motorsport, said in a release. “This means that Laurens, Nick and Fred will not be traveling to the USA.
“This is very regrettable, but we would like to emphasize that in this case as well the health of all those concerned is the prime focus of the decisions we have taken.”
The decision also affects Earl Bamber, who teamed with Vanthoor to win the GTLM championship last year in the No. 912.
Porsche said its GTLM Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries will return for the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.
That will reduce the GTLM class to four cars — two Corvettes and two BMWs — this weekend at Mid-Ohio, in what could be somewhat of a 2021 preview. Porsche Motorsport announced earlier this year that it will leave IMSA after the 2020 season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.