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F1’s greatest ever qualifying laps

8 months ago

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Karun Chandhok | Racing driver


10 October 2023

At the Japanese Grand Prix, I said on TV that I thought Max Verstappen’s qualifying lap was one of the greatest laps I’d ever seen in Formula 1. There was the usual ‘oh, he’s in the best car so it’s easy for him’ rhetoric from some quarters but having watched the lap back a few times, I completely stand by what I said.

It’s been 90 years since the first ever timed session at the 1933 Monaco Grand Prix and obviously there are probably dozens of laps that have gone under the radar. There are performances such as Juan Manuel Fangio at the Nürburgring in 1957 or Jim Clark in South Africa in 1965 which are often quoted as amongst the greatest qualifying laps of all time, but they were decades before I was born, so it’s hard to relate.

I’ve heard a lot about Keke Rosberg’s pole lap in Silverstone in 1985, which set a single lap speed record (160.925mph) which stood for 17 years. This is especially impressive when you consider he outqualified his teammate, Silverstone legend Nigel Mansell, by over a second and the team later discovered he had a slow puncture. A brave man was Keke!

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