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Verstappen: Alonso performances a reward of self-belief, commitment to F1

Max Verstappen praised Fernando Alonso as a "great example" of the rewards of remaining committed to Formula 1, following their intense battle for Monaco Grand Prix pole.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Team, pole man Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, in the post Qualifying Press Conference

Photo by: FIA Pool

The Red Bull driver made a successful swoop for pole in the dying stages of Q3 to deny Alonso the chance of a first F1 pole since 2012, using the final corners to overturn a deficit of two tenths accrued in the opening pair of sectors.

Thanks to the vastly improved form of the Aston Martin team in 2023, Alonso has been able to consistently run at the front after years of struggling with sub-optimal machinery either side of his two-year break from the championship across 2019 and 2020.

Asked if it was a surprise that Alonso would factor as a challenger at the top of F1 once more, Verstappen was effusive in his praise of the veteran Spaniard.

"It's nothing of a surprise! I grew up watching Fernando in F1, I like his style and for him to still be here at 41, it is very impressive," Verstappen said.

"I think it's a great example for people out there, you know, if you stay committed and believe in yourself, believe in the opportunities that come to you, then you can show something.

"He's doing that right now, and also [showing his] natural raw talent."

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Photo by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images

Verstappen reckoned that although his Monaco pole came in dramatic circumstances, it was not necessarily the best pole position of his career - stating that the lap was simply "good enough" to complete the job.

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He explained that, having been told that he was behind Alonso ahead of the final sector, he felt that he could not compromise on risk and put everything he had in reserve into getting his lines right in the final sector.

"I don't think [it was my best], but it was good enough. I'm just happy to get my first pole here," Verstappen reflected.

"You know, it's always super hectic. We also had clean running in Q3 as well, so that was nice for everyone to just push to the limit.

"The whole session went really well. I struggled bit in the first lap with worn tires and putting it all together, all the sectors. But I knew that the last time, I had to do it because [Alonso] improved. I also knew going into the last sector I was down on them, so I had to push in the last second risk everything to get back time."

Although Alonso later noted that Aston Martin holds a small advantage over Red Bull at the starts, he felt that the short run to the first corner would not confer much of a chance of passing into the first corner.

Regardless, Verstappen felt that the RB19's leisurely starts by comparison were no longer an issue.

"It was [an issue]," he added. "But I think from Miami we do have much better starts. We also know why it wasn't top at the beginning of the season, but I can't really say anything else about that. But I'm not so worried about that anymore."

Additional reporting by Ronald Vording

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