After going fastest in FP3, reigning World Champion Max Verstappen appeared set to get his title defence off to the best possible start, however, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc pulled out an amazing lap to take pole, forcing the Dutchman to start from second on the grid.
“Overall, it’s not a bad position to be in, of course you always want more but this is a positive start to the season. I think we have a good race car which is important and with it being the start of the season, there are still a lot of things to learn. Q2 was good but Q3 was a bit more hit and miss with not really getting the right balance. There was some oversteer and understeer so you can’t really attack the corner which makes it quite difficult to put that lap together, so that’s something we’ll need to look into. The Ferraris are of course very close and it’s going to be a tough battle, they have two strong drivers so it’s going to be exciting. The weather is meant to be warmer tomorrow so it’ll be a bit tougher on the tyres. As a Team we just have to see how competitive we are in the race, it’s a long season and a lot can happen.”
“I am optimistic about tomorrow and in the race anything can happen. I just didn’t manage to get one hundred percent out of the car today but we still have a good starting position and I hope we can make up some positions come race day. It is great to have other teams up there to make things more competitive, but it is a long road ahead and what matters is tomorrow. I think P3 was possible if we had put everything together and I was able to do that final corner again, I ran a bit too much curb through it. It would have been good to start on the clean side of the grid but a lot of overtaking can happen here and hopefully we are able to fight the Ferraris and have a good race for the fans. I am looking forward to it, I want a strong lap one and strong pace. My goal is to at least get on the podium and get a one, two for the Team. We are in a good position to fight the Ferraris.”
“With a completely new car and new regulations, to be on the front row, we are very, very happy with where both cars have qualified. We put a lot of effort into last year, we were late coming onto this car, and I think the team have done a wonderful job. With such a clean sheet of regulations, everything is different, but the times are so close, so it’s going to be a great race. We don’t really know how strong the long-run pace of Ferrari is, we’ve also got more to find out about ourselves and it’s only going to be when the lights go out tomorrow that we’ll see what kind of shape we are in. It’s going to be interesting to see how the strategies unfold with these new cars and critically can we follow closer due to the new regulations?”