Verstappen cut a frustrated figure as he was beaten to top spot in qualifying by Charles Leclerc, with Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez making up the top three in Saturday’s session
The Ferrari ace will start Sunday’s race at the front of the grid after going two tenths quicker than the defending champion in his final flying lap of Q3. It meant Verstappen, who looked a good bet for pole, will have to settle with starting alongside him on the front row of the grid.
The Dutchman did little to hide his annoyance as he appeared in front of the TV cameras after the session. Asked by Sky Sports F1’s Johnny Herbert how he felt about the session, Verstappen said: “Not good – I didn’t really feel good in the car the whole weekend so far.
“I think there has not been one lap where I actually felt confident. So a bit of a struggle. Of course second is still a good result, but yeah I’m just not feeling that brave to go to the limit. We will try to analyse it.
“Probably at race pace everything will stabilise a bit, but for me this weekend so far has been all over the place. I’m happy to be second, but as a team we want more.”
Meanwhile, much happier with his performance, was Leclerc who secured his second pole of the season. The Monegasque racer received a huge ovation from the Melbourne crowd, which had witnessed a Ferrari set a pole position time at this track for the first time in 15 years.
He also spoke to Herbert in Parc Ferme, and said: “It felt good. Even more because it is a track where I have always struggled in the past as a driver, it probably doesn’t fit me as well.
“But this weekend we really worked hard. It was a bit messy in the three free practice sessions for me – I had some good laps but not everything together – but in Q3 I managed to put everything together so that feels great. I’m very happy to be starting on pole tomorrow.
“The car is nice to drive. The Red Bulls were very quick in FP2 during the longer run, but to be honest we again were quite surprised by our pace in qualifying. Anything is possible tomorrow, we just need a good start and hopefully we can keep the first position.”