It was a lap time of 1:16.732 that allowed Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen to secure his first ever Australian Grand Prix pole position and further extend his streak of starting from the front row for every round of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season so far.
Verstappen reported some issues shifting gears during the final section of qualifying, but this didn’t hold him back from taking the top slot, finishing ahead of the Mercedes of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.
It was a qualifying of narrow margins, and the reigning World Champion said that it was difficult for him to find the right tyre temperature throughout the weekend, though he said he was able to make it work when it truly counted.
“Overall, it was a pretty good qualifying. It’s been tough this weekend to get the tyres in a good window to push straight away, but it all worked out in Q3 and the last run was good. I’m very happy with the lap and to be on pole position here in Australia.”
His next objective will be to convert pole into his first win at Albert Park Circuit, with his career best finish at the venue being third place. Verstappen expects an exciting race, but hopes that he can cement his lead with a solid start and go from there.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow, it’s going to be an interesting race that’s for sure. We need a clean start, and after that, hopefully we can do a good job. I’ve been on the podium here before but this time I want to be on a different step.”
“Today was a day to forget.” – Sergio Perez
Team-mate Sergio Perez will start from the very back of the grid on race day after running off and becoming beached in the gravel during Q1.
Perez said that the cause of his unfortunate exit was an ongoing technical problem that led him to have similar issues earlier in the day during Free Practice Three.
“Today was a day to forget. We have a technical issue that we’re trying to get to the bottom of, we had the same issue this morning and we thought we fixed it, but as soon as I hit the braking zone it was clear we hadn’t.”
Perez is aware that recovering from a twentieth place start will be a demanding task in Albert Park, being a track that makes overtaking difficult. However, he is confident that, with the support of his team, he’ll be able to climb into the top ten and collect valuable points.
“It’s very unfortunate what happened today but together as a team, we’ll do our best to fix it ahead of tomorrow’s race.”
“On a track that is hard to overtake, it will be tough, but I will do what I can to get some good points for the team and work hard to get us into a good position.”