Horner: Buemi and Dennis helped Red Bull take pole position

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Emilia Romagna, Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrariit

Having suffered from balance issues during the opening day of the Imola F1 round, Max Verstappen grabbed the best starting spot for the first European race of the season. Team boss Christian Horner praised the team's efforts that saw Red Bull fine-tune the setup of the RB20 just in time for the all-important qualifying session.

Expanding on the contrasting day of his team, team boss Christian Horner said: “It was an outstanding Saturday here in Imola, especially after we struggled yesterday. The team did a really good job overnight, with Seb Buemi, Jake Dennis and everyone in Milton Keynes working into the early hours on the simulator, and we kept improving the car as we saw the results of in Q3.

"Max had to deliver and he really pulled it out of the bag with a great performance, and you can tell how much it meant to him to be on pole today. That’s 8 poles in a row, equalling the great Ayrton Senna and doing it here in Imola making it all the more poignant.

"Checo wasn’t as fortunate and he lost a bit of time in the first and second chicanes which then put some pressure on the rest of his lap, he recovered some time but unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough and he narrowly missed Q3. All to play for tomorrow as we head into race day in Imola.”

The team's Mexican driver Sergio Perez struggled for pace on Pirelli's soft tyres, and with lap times having been so close in qualifying, his lack of pace meant that he only finished outside of Q3.

In fact, the Mexican could have made it through into the last qualifying segment, but a small lock-up saw him end up only in P11.

“It hasn’t been a very smooth weekend overall, and we’ve been playing quite a bit with the car and we just weren’t able to maximize in qualifying. In Q1 my lap wasn’t good enough and we went out on a new set, which means we started Q2 on a scrubbed set.

"On my final lap in Q2 I lacked rear grip in Turn 7 and locked up which cost me two and half tenths which would have easily put me into Q3, so I think we had the pace to be a lot higher up. We’ve made some good progress with the car as Max showed, but unfortunately from my side I didn’t get the chance to show that in Q3.

"We will see what we will be able to do come race day as Imola is one of the hardest tracks to overtake on, but I hope that we can be strong tomorrow and the main target will be to minimize the issues we had today and to have a good, solid race.”

Speaking of his challenging day behind the wheel of the RB20, Verstappen said: “It was a really rewarding pole today and everything ended up coming together for qualifying.

"This weekend has been tough and we have been lacking pace and balance within the car, however we kept on working at it and trying to improve. When we went into qualifying, the balance of the car felt a lot better, so it was a great turnaround.

"Honestly it is just a fantastic track and I wish we had more of those on the calendar. It felt unbelievable to drive a qualifying lap here; there are a few old school tracks that we have remaining on the calendar which are really exciting and what I fell in love with when I started watching and racing in Formula One.

"McLaren is looking strong but with the changes that we made on the car, it should be better for the race tomorrow. I feel a little less prepared than I would like to be going into the race and we don’t expect it to be easy, but we are going to give it a good go.

"It is special and a proud moment to receive eight poles in a row, especially as we have been having a tough weekend. It was a whole team effort but we managed to bring it together today," concluded the reigning world champion.