Max Verstappen admitted he had been uncomfortable all weekend despite starting from the front row for the Australian Grand Prix.
The third round of the 2022 season could well turn into a new duel between the world champion and his Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc, who propelled the Red Bull man to pole position at Albert Park.
It’s been one win apiece so far this season as the drivers prepare for a potential title battle, with Leclerc currently holding the advantage after Verstappen retired from the opener in Bahrain.
But the Dutchman feels he will have to get back to singing quickly in Melbourne after falling well short of his usual high standards throughout Friday and Saturday.
We’ll take that 👏 Lots to play on race day ⏭🇦🇺 pic.twitter.com/IxiqRXLjVI
—Oracle Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) April 9, 2022
Asked on track by Johnny Herbert about his immediate reaction to his position in Q2 during qualifying, Verstappen replied: “Not good. I haven’t really felt good in the car all weekend so far.
“I don’t think there was a single lap where I felt really confident, so I struggled a bit.
“Of course, second is always a good result, but I don’t feel so good to go to the limit. We will try to analyze it.
“Probably in the race pace everything stabilizes a bit, but for me this weekend so far it’s been all over the place. I also think as a team we want more.
However, other than failing to take pole, there was nothing else to be unhappy with Red Bull as Sergio Perez qualified third quickest – although he still had to go to the stewards to a charge of not slowing down enough for yellow flags.
Additionally, Ferrari suffered a knock with Carlos Sainz in ninth position after having to drop back a lap near the finish line when red flags were waved after Fernando Alonso crashed. The Spaniard then made a mistake on his last run.
Perez had appeared to be in contention for pole position earlier in the session, but Q3 didn’t go so well for him.
“In Q1 and Q2 things were going well, but with all the red flags it’s very difficult to keep the momentum going,” said the Mexican.
“I kinda regret the decision we made in Q3 with the tire strategy, but I think P3 is a decent start for tomorrow.
“Hopefully we make a lot of Australians very happy tomorrow – full stands already on Saturday, so hopefully tomorrow we can give them a great race.”