Formula 1’s wait for its first teenager to start on pole position will continue after Max Verstappen lost out to Sebastian Vettel in the final stage of qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix on Saturday night.
After making his debut aged 17, Verstappen became F1’s youngest race winner last year and is the youngest driver to start on the front row of the grid, lining up P2 at Spa last year.
While the Red Bull driver still has over a year to break Vettel’s record for being the youngest pole-sitter, his chance to do so while still a teenager passed by in Singapore, as he will celebrate his 20th birthday on the Saturday of the Malaysian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.
After leading FP3, Q1 and Q2, Verstappen looked in good shape for pole, but ultimately could not match Vettel’s stunning final effort in Q3.
“All weekend has been a good build up, getting faster and faster and finding a smooth rhythm so to come away with second is a really good result,” Verstappen said.
“I took a little bit of risk to put down a good lap as we had predicted the others would improve from yesterday and this morning’s sessions. Perhaps there was a bit of time in the last sector to find but in general I am very pleased with how the car and I performed.
“That was the best balance in terms of set-up I have had with the car in qualifying all year and that is a big positive. My quickest time was more or less the maximum I could do, Sebastian just had an even better lap.
“Race pace is good so we have a chance tomorrow but it looks like Ferrari have found quite a lot.
“The start will be important and maybe if there are a couple of safety cars that could impact the result too.”
The Singapore Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.