Dutch teenager Max Verstappen secured a career-best fifth on the grid for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix during qualifying around the Albert Park circuit on Saturday.
Returning to the venue of his Grand Prix debut a year ago, the Scuderia Toro Rosso driver admitted his surprise to be so far up the grid, feeling making it through to Q3 was possible beforehand but not believing fifth could have been achieved.
Verstappen also praised the work done by the whole team over the winter to adapt their 2016 STR11 chassis to the 2015 Ferrari power unit, and hopes to have a strong race day on Sunday.
“It was a good qualifying session, especially after FP3, where I was struggling a bit with the car,” said Verstappen. “We managed to turn it around and to be P5 – a career best – here in Melbourne is a great achievement by the whole team!
“If I’m honest, I’m a bit surprised with the result – I thought Q3 was maybe possible, but to be here in P5 is definitely a better result than we expected.
“Over the winter the team did a great job and now we need to enjoy this moment and get ready for tomorrow’s race. I’m definitely looking forward to it!”