Max Verstappen hails last-minute set-up changes after claiming surprise Imola pole and equalling Ayrton Senna’s record

Max Verstappen has admitted that pole position was far from his thinking after a “really difficult” start to the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix weekend, with the Dutchman and Red Bull staging an impressive fightback in qualifying.

Verstappen ended Friday’s running only seventh on the timesheets after several off-track excursions, angry radio messages and a run-in with former title rival Lewis Hamilton – describing Red Bull as “severely off pace”.

AS IT HAPPENED: Follow all the action from qualifying for the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

However, after some more learnings in final practice, Verstappen and Red Bull returned to form during qualifying as the reigning world champion stormed to pole ahead of McLaren pair Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris.

Speaking after qualifying, Verstappen said: “[It’s been] a really difficult weekend so far, even this morning [in final practice]. I’m incredibly happy to be on pole here, I didn’t expect that.

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