Formula 1 Racing

Pole position ‘a bit unexpected after tricky weekend’

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Max Verstappen said he was surprised to take pole position for the Australian Grand Prix having not led a session during the weekend until Q3.

The Red Bull driver saw off a challenge from Ferrari to claim his third consecutive pole position at the start of the season.

“It was a bit unexpected,” said Verstappen, who complained about understeer in his car at the beginning of the session. “I was very happy with Q3. I think both of those laps, they felt really, really nice and that was very enjoyable.

“It was a bit of a tricky weekend so far but we managed to be there at the end, so I’m very happy with that.”

He will share the front row of the grid with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jnr. Verstappen is wary of their pace after they headed two practice sessions as well as Q1 and Q2.

“They seem very quick also in the long run,” said the world champion. “So a bit of a question mark for tomorrow. But I guess that makes it very exciting.”

His team mate Sergio Perez will start third, but is under investigation for impeding Nico Hulkenberg during Q1. He qualified three-tenths of a second off Verstappen, and said “definitely there was a bit more in it.”

“My first sector was not great, especially turn one on my final attempt,” he explained. “I didn’t hook in the whole combination, which straight away is a tenth, tenth and a half.

“But I’m happy. I think given how we’ve been in the weekend I think it’s been a very nice progression.”

Perez also predicted a strong fight with Ferrari in the race, as Pirelli have brought a softer range of tyres than last year.

“I think tomorrow we’ve got a fight on our hands to the Ferraris and to the rest of the field because I think the degradation is going to be very high,” he said. “So I think starting position is not that relevant at the moment.”

“We’ve changed a bit our strategy for tomorrow and let’s see who can survive the most on the degradation side,” he added.

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