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Formula 1: Verstappen also great in Australia: “A bit unexpected”

Formula 1: Verstappen also great in Australia: “A bit unexpected”

Verstappen cannot be beaten this Formula 1 season. The world champion is also starting from the very beginning in Melbourne. After an operation, Sainz can keep up in the Ferrari. The teammate makes a mistake.

Max Verstappen briefly fixed his hair and then waved to the audience. The Formula 1 world champion also secured his third pole position of the season with a fantastic lap in Melbourne and put Ferrari back in its place. Even after replacing the engine, the Dutch Red Bull driver was once again unconquerable and is aiming for his tenth win in a row at the Grand Prix of Australia on Sunday (5 a.m. CET/Sky).

“It was a bit unexpected, but I’m very happy with Q3,” said Verstappen after the final qualifying round, in which he achieved the 35th pole position of his career. Two weeks after an appendectomy, Carlos Sainz finished second in his Ferrari. Sergio Perez ended up in third place in the second Red Bull, but was subsequently given a three-place penalty because of Nico Hülkenberg’s disability. Sainz’s teammate Charles Leclerc also benefited from this, as he botched his last lap and moved up to fourth place due to the penalty.

Red Bull motorsport consultant complains against Ferrari

“They thought they would beat us,” said Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko pointedly on the Sky TV channel in the direction of Ferrari. “Then the disillusionment is even greater.” But Marko was even more impressed by Verstappen, who improved lap after lap in the knockout rounds of qualifying. “It’s great that he has organized tire management like that,” said Marko. “Everything worked out, we didn’t expect it like that.”

Hülkenberg, the only German regular driver in the field, was eliminated in the first knockout round for the first time this season and did not get past 16th place. “My lap wasn’t good,” admitted the Haas driver and stated: “We’re not fast enough.”

Conclusion from Mercedes: “Really bad”

It was nowhere near enough for record world champion Lewis Hamilton to take the top spot. The Mercedes driver had to make do with eleventh position, while teammate George Russell came seventh. “This inconsistency in the car really messes you up,” said Hamilton, groaning. Team boss Toto Wolff described the Silver Arrows’ result as “really bad”. “It’s just not satisfactory.”

Leclerc’s mood was also bad. The Monegasse botched his last lap at the Albert Park Circuit in the hunt for the fastest time. “I just didn’t find the right feeling,” complained Leclerc, who last took pole position in Las Vegas in 2023. “The car was difficult to drive, it went from understeer to oversteer.”

Sainz initially feels “a bit rusty”

His stable rival Sainz, on the other hand, was relieved. While he had to miss the Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia because of his appendix operation, only Verstappen was faster this time. “Those were tough weeks in which I spent many days in the hospital bed,” reported Sainz, who still felt “a bit rusty” on the first day of training. “I almost can’t believe that I’m standing on the front row of the grid.”

For Verstappen, the top has become the standard. The three-time world champion is now setting his sights on his 57th career victory. “It was difficult to find the balance in the car this weekend,” he explained. “But we made a few adjustments that helped me.” That doesn’t bode well for its competitors.

Source: Stern

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