Max Verstappen said fourth place was better than he was expecting to qualify for the Australian Grand Prix, with the Dutchman setting a good final lap on Saturday afternoon to put himself ahead of Scuderia Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
The Red Bull Racing driver said he was lucky to avoid the same fate as team-mate Pierre Gasly, who was eliminated in the first segment of Qualifying thanks to a miscalculation of track evolution, thanks to getting a decent second lap on his first and only run in Q1, but after then it was a much more plain sailing to get into Q3 and then onto the second row of the grid.
“I am pretty happy with the way qualifying went,” admitted Verstappen. “After some of the difficulties we’ve had this weekend, especially this morning, I was a bit worried but the guys here and back at the factory have been working really well together to find a good set-up and I think we can be pleased with the second row.
“It was really tight in Q1 and on a street circuit like this you really have to nail the first run. I was lucky to have that second lap on the board where I improved but it was really tight, especially as we only used one set of tyres, unlike many others.
“I definitely felt the extra performance coming from the qualifying mode which is also very pleasing. It has been tricky finding a good balance and we are of course not where we want to be in terms of the gap, but we also have to be realistic and happy with this grid position. Fourth is better than we expected going into qualifying.”
Turning his attention to race day, Verstappen admits he is unsure to just how competitive he and his RB15 will be on Sunday after his failure to do a full long run on Friday, but he hopes to keep himself in contention by having a clean start in what will be Red Bull’s first race outing with Honda.
“It’s difficult to say where we will be tomorrow and I didn’t get to do a full long run on Friday, but it looks like the tyres are holding on quite well, so as long as we get a clean start, we will find out what we can really do,” said the Dutchman.