Formula 1

2024 Australian Grand Prix – What the Drivers Said after Qualifying – Part 1

5 Mins read
Credit: Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen took pole at the 2024 Australian Grand Prix, ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Sergio Pérez.

Lando Norris had an impressive session and will start third following Pérez’s grid penalty, while Australian driver Oscar Piastri lines up fifth. Read what all the drivers had to say following qualifying below!

#1 – Max Verstappen – Oracle Red Bull Racing

“Even though it was a more difficult weekend, achieving pole position today was great. I didn’t really expect to make it on pole, but we kept on making steady improvements throughout qualifying and I felt able to push a little bit better. Over the weekend, we have been struggling with the graining and have had a lot of things to figure out, but we just needed to keep on fine tuning the car with the Team.

The balance of the car got better throughout; as we went through the session it felt easier to manage and I’m very happy with the laps we did in Q3 and surprised myself. We obviously had all the information from Q1 and Q2 and I think we achieved two very good laps. It is a bit of an unknown tomorrow as it is always easy to make a mistake here and it is harder to manage the tyres.

“Although the weekend has been a bit tough for us and I don’t think tomorrow will be an easy race, to still be on pole with the difficulties that we had is something we can be very proud of.”

#55 – Carlos Sainz Jr – Scuderia Ferrari

“From missing the race in Jeddah to this P2 in two weeks, it’s been an interesting journey to say the least! I’m very happy because coming to Australia I wasn’t even sure I was going to make it. We have managed to progress steadily session after session, knowing that the target was to arrive as prepared as possible for qualifying.

“I tried everything to get pole in the last lap but it’s impossible to be disappointed with today’s result given the circumstances. Hopefully the body holds on during the entire race. As long as I have no pain and with the extra motivation from today, I will fight to get a good result tomorrow.”

#4 – Lando Norris – McLaren F1 Team

“I’m happy with today. I think we made a good turnaround. I’ve been struggling a little bit all weekend with balance. We changed quite a bit going into today and made some good steps forward, so I’m now feeling much happier.

“I felt like I got a bit more comfortable with the car, and as soon as that happens, I can roll-out some speed. So, a big thanks to everyone here at track and back in Woking for their help overnight. A good day, a good position and hopefully we can transfer it into good points tomorrow.”

#16 – Charles Leclerc – Scuderia Ferrari

“I just didn’t find the right feeling today, starting from FP3. In qualifying, the front wasn’t as strong as I wanted, so I went aggressive with the front wing on my last run and ultimately, it didn’t work out.

“With a good start, and if I get past Lando (Norris), we can focus on fighting the cars in front together with Carlos. The race is long and there are 4 DRS zones at this track, so overtaking is possible. Let’s see what we can bring home tomorrow.”

Credit: Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

#81 – Oscar Piastri – McLaren F1 Team

“P6 in quali. A decent session, I probably peaked a bit early! Felt like Q2 was very strong and then just didn’t quite replicate it in Q3. So, I’ve got mixed feelings. I think the car had good pace and I think we’ve shown that we’ve got good race pace, so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”

#11 – Sergio Perez – Oracle Red Bull Racing

“It was quite tricky out there; I think that soft tyre was making things very difficult for us and getting up to speed on that set is quite hard but in the end it really worked well and we were able to extract the maximum from the tyre.

“I didn’t get the maximum from my final lap and lost a tenth at turn one, I think P2 was achievable, but I am still pleased with P3, I am on the clean side of the grid and can fight from there. This is a good starting point, I am confident, I want to get a strong start and get Carlos off the line.

“The degradation is a lot higher than last year here, it will be a challenge with Ferrari and it will come down to strategy and management of the tyres. Hopefully we get the result we want, that would be very nice for the team.”

#63 – George Russell – Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

“It wasn’t the qualifying session we were hoping for today. It was challenging to get the tyres in the right window, and it is so tight out there so a few tenths can have a major impact. The car felt strong in FP3 but unfortunately that feeling didn’t quite translate into the afternoon.

“We know where we need to improve the car and that is in the high-speed corners. Unfortunately, there are a decent amount of those here in Melbourne, so this circuit is definitely not playing to our strengths.

“I do think we’ll be in a better place tomorrow though when everyone has the fuel in their car. There are also many unknowns heading into the race. Nobody has run the Hard tyre, and that will be the compound that is primarily in use throughout. We may also see some graining. I think we will see a more exciting race here than we usually see. And ultimately, it is the Grand Prix that counts.”

#22 – Yuki Tsunoda – Visa CashApp RB

“I’m very happy with the performance of the team and myself. Definitely a big credit to them for giving me a very consistent car throughout the weekend. It’s been easier to adapt and build confidence in every session, so I definitely feel like I had a clean lap, was able to squeeze a few milliseconds from each corner, and maximised the performance.

“I didn’t expect P8, and especially Q3 after seeing Williams and other teams find more time in Q1, but I’m very happy; it’s the highest qualifying position this season and reflects the hard work of the team. Daniel was also looking quick so it’s a bit of a shame what happened, but let’s see how it goes tomorrow. It won’t be easy, but we aim to have a clean race, do as much as we can, and score points!”

#18 – Lance Stroll – Aston Martin Aramco F1 Team

“We had strong Q1 and Q2 sessions today: the car was performing well and I found a decent rhythm. I then had a bit of a moment at Turn Nine in Q3 and lost three or four tenths. It had been a good lap up until then, so I think we could have been looking at a couple of positions higher up if it hadn’t been for that wobble.

“Tomorrow is going to be a high-degradation race, so I think it’s all about managing tyres. We have a good race car and it’s a fun track to drive so strong points will be the target tomorrow.”

#14 – Fernando Alonso – Aston Martin Aramco F1 Team

“Getting both cars into Q3 was more or less what we expected today. My first lap in Q3 wasn’t great: I went off into the gravel at Turn Six. My mistake. So, on my final push-lap, I didn’t really have full confidence in the car. It was tricky.

“I feel we are a little bit less competitive than we were in Jeddah. The car was sliding; a little sensitive in the wind; lacking consistency. But it’s the same for everybody. Still, we need to find more pace. There will be lots going on tomorrow.

“It’s not going to be an easy race for the tyres – graining will be a concern for everybody – so let’s see if we can manage them better than the others. We want to get both cars home in the points tomorrow.”

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