Max Verstappen is on pole for the Brazilian Grand Prix and James Gray thinks he knows why...
"Verstappen did not actually nail his qualifying lap, suggesting there is a little more pace in the car to come"
Sometimes the Brazilian Grand Prix makes life difficult for teams with changing weather conditions and the threat of rain.
Practice saw the teams get some wet-weather running in but it was the temperature rather than moisture levels cause problems for the teams in qualifying.
As the sun began to set on Sao Paulo, track temperature started to drop and producing fast times proved trickier, as did picking the right line.
But Max Verstappen excelled, as he so often does in reduced grip, to take an impressive pole position.
Mad Max's mad dash to Turn 1
Verstappen has never started in the first three places on the grid in Brazil but it's never stopped him going well at Interlagos: he has two podiums in three Red Bull starts there and the top step is the only one he has not stood on.
He will not get a better chance to complete the set than this evening, although with 5/1 shot Sebastian Vettel next to him and 5/2-rated Lewis Hamilton behind, the run to the first corner is likely to be fraught.
What will give Verstappen some hope is that on neither of his laps in Q3 did he appear to nail his execution, suggesting there is a little more pace in the car, if he can extract it.
Furthermore, his provisional pole lap - bettered later in the session - came without any purple sectors, suggesting there is an all-round speed to the Red Bull package that should be strong both in the chase and in defending from cars behind.
And even Vettel was scared by the straight-line speed in his post-qualifying press conference.
"It's a little bit suspicious," he quipped, only half-joking.
Verstappen is a 5/6 favourite to turn pole into just his third win of the season and while I hate tipping the top of the odds, I can't look past him - as long as Vettel doesn't turn him round in the first corner.
Ferrari's big worry
There is a lot going for Ferrari this weekend, even though Charles Leclerc will start 14th thanks to a grid penalty.
They were extremely fast through the speed trap and consistent lap-time in Brazil does rely on good acceleration and top speed on the home straight.
However, Vettel expressed concern after qualifying about how much they might struggle with the tyres - which makes sense when you look at the rest of the lap.
The middle sector is tight, technical and full of medium speed corners which torture the rubber and are the most difficult type of turn for Ferrari and their low-drag concept.
So while they might be monsters in a straight line, managing their race could be problematic and their strength was likely to come in qualifying.
However, Leclerc will have a bit more freedom of strategy and can take some risks down the order, as well as appearing to have better overall pace than Vettel, even if the German out-qualified him on the final run.
It would be a fine drive for Leclerc to end up on the podium but I am a big fan of his abilities and at 4/1, I'm taking a punt on him pulling it off.
Believe in Honda
Vettel's concerns about Red Bull's straight-line speed reflect the progress the Milton Keynes outfit have made this year, but also their Japanese engine supplier.
After a disastrous relationship with McLaren, Red Bull took a real risk on Honda but it has paid off - and they are not the only ones benefiting.
The much-maligned Pierre Gasly qualified in seventh yesterday and will start sixth thanks to Leclerc's grid drop, putting the Frenchman on the third row of the grid alongside his replacement Alexander Albon.
He still has a lot to give to F1 and was unlucky to be booted from the senior team so quickly, even if Albon has exceeded all expectations since.
Gasly is still in a Toro Rosso so a 6/4 price for one of the top three teams to lose a car and him to benefit hasn't quite got me excited, but he is 4/11 to finish in the points and with a Honda engine that is flying, he should be more than capable of that.