Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2023

Pole a relief for Verstappen as Red Bull’s tyre warm-up proves “very tough”

2023 Australian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen said he was pleased to secure pole position for the Australian Grand Prix after having a “very tough” time managing tyre temperatures during qualifying.

The championship leader took his second pole of the season by two tenths of a second ahead of the Mercedes of George Russell.

Red Bull were one of few teams to attempt flying laps in Q3 without using a preparation lap to bring the tyres up to temperature. Verstappen temporarily fell to sixth place after his first run and admitted he was relieved to make his later flying laps count.

“The last lap was pretty decent,” he said. “Up until then, it was just really tricky to find a grip and try to nail it on one lap.

“You could see everyone was doing either like a build [lap] or were going faster on the second attempt. I only had time in that last run to go out and just go for that first time, but this time it worked out so I’m very happy with that. ”

Weather conditions have been significantly cooler than usual in Melbourne, which has contributed to drivers struggling to generate heat in their tyres. Verstappen said the road surface around the street circuit, which was re-laid last year, has also affected the available grip levels.

“Overall it was going quite well – Q1, Q2, Q3 – but like I said, it’s just very tough to get the tyres to work in turn one and get that comfortable feeling through that corner. That has been a bit the story again the whole week.

Showers also reduced the amount of running drivers were able to do on Friday. However Verstappen said “it wouldn’t have mattered if we had full running in FP1 and FP2 – it seems very tricky with this new tarmac around here since last year.”

Red Bull are set to start first and last on the grid for tomorrow’s race after Sergio Perez skidded off the circuit early in Q1, leaving him down in 20th position. After his team took commanding victories over the first two rounds of the season, Verstappen is confident in his car’s race pace.

“I did a long run in FP3, so I had a bit of a read on the tyres,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a straightforward race, with the tyres, but I think what we’ve shown so far this year, I think the car normally is good in the race.”

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2023 Australian Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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