Verstappen conceded Mercedes the driver Lewis Hamilton in both Q1 and Q2 in qualifying at the low-grip Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, but then led from a distance in the final segment before securing pole with the fastest time at the death in Q3.

It freed him from George Russell and Hamilton by 0.304s and 0.309s for his sixth pole of the 2022 campaign.

Speaking at the post-qualifying press conference, Verstappen was delighted with his result after coming back against the Mercedes pair in qualifying.

He was also pleased his team had made a smooth attempt to secure the pole at a track where the high altitude reduces available downforce and causes cars to slide on a surface some drivers described as “like ice”.

“The start of qualifying was a bit difficult because the track was a bit warmer than FP3, so I think everyone was sliding a bit more and it was a bit harder to find our rhythm,” explained Verstappen.

“So, it was really about [learning changes from] Q1-to-Q2-to-Q3 – trying to find balance in the car again.

“It got a bit better towards the end of the session and I think in the third quarter we were finally able to make a bit more progress with the car and [I did] two decent laps i think.

“Of course, I’m very happy with them, because it’s very difficult here – at least for me – to nail the knees.

“It’s just very low grip and there are a few curbs that you have to hit perfectly to really gain time.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Photo: Carl Bingham / Images of motor sports

“So it’s definitely not the easiest qualification or race. And the same for warming up the tires. But it seems we had the right picture in the third quarter.”

Verstappen also said that he and Red Bull were just “just tweaking some things [steering] circle [that] everyone is allowed [to do]” to find a “good balance” in time for critical Q3 runs.

After setting 1 min. 17.947s in his opening Q3 attempt, Verstappen improved to 1 min. 17.775s on a pole-clinching lap – his first at the Autodromo Hermanas Rodríguez since missing out on the 2019 award for a yellow flag offence.

When asked by Autosport/ where he improved between the two races. Verstappen replied: “Honestly, I think I just won a little bit everywhere – I didn’t make a mistake on my first lap.

“It was just a few corners where [there] there was also perhaps a tiny evolution of the track. Just trying to nail it all the time.”

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