Max Verstappen was ‘really happy’ about his performance during Qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix even before he found out he would move up a spot on the grid, a result of Lewis Hamilton being handed a grid penalty for impeding Kimi Räikkönen.
A winner at the Red Bull Ring twelve months ago, Verstappen was in good form throughout Qualifying, ending Q1 with the fastest time before advancing comfortable into Q3 using Pirelli’s medium compound tyre. He ended third fastest in that final segment but will join Charles Leclerc on the front row on Sunday.
The Red Bull Racing driver felt positive with his qualifying effort, with praise being laid not only to his team but also to engine suppliers Honda, who have seemingly made a step forward with its power output in its most recent engine upgrade.
“I’m really happy about qualifying,” said Verstappen. “All weekend the car has felt competitive and also from the engine side we have worked really well with Honda to extract a little more power.
“To be third is great and I was smiling in the car when I finished the lap. We definitely got the most out of it today and through the corners we were really quick. To be closer to the pole time is also a great step forwards.”
Despite not having completed a long run this weekend due to his free practice two crash on Friday afternoon, Verstappen remains confident that he can fight for victory in front of his many fans on Sunday, particularly as traditionally his race pace is stronger than what his one lap pace is on a Saturday.
“As soon as I stopped the car and turned the engine off I could hear the crowd,” admitted the Dutchman. “There are so many Dutch and Austrian Red Bull fans here which gives me a lot of positive energy and motivation.
“I haven’t done a long run but normally we are a little stronger in the race than qualifying. There is a long way to go before we fight for victory but this is a really good start for the Team and we will give it everything we have tomorrow.”