verstappn pole winner celeste barber melbourne f1 australian gp pirelli

Verstappen: Reliability is not a problem

red bull f1 verstappn pole winner celeste barber melbourne f1 australian gp pirelli

Formula 1 reigning World Champion Max Verstappen may have tempted fate by claiming reliability is not an issue for Red Bull after he topped qualifying for the 2023 Australian Grand Prix, setting himself up for his first win in Melbourne on Sunday.

With Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez beached without a qualifying lap to his name, Verstappen dug into his ‘mature-mode’ after a maxed-out first attempt in Q3 the Dutch ace listened to his sensible voice, went conservative and still had a quarter-second advantage of what his rivals could muster when it mattered.

In parc ferme, after claiming his 22nd Grand Prix pole position start, his first at Albert Park, Verstappen reported: “The last run was very good. The whole weekend has been very tough to get the tyres ready to push straightaway but it worked out in Q3. I’m very happy with the lap and to be in pole position.

“We always try to fine-tune and we will continue to do that. I think we will have a good race car but it is tricky to keep the tyres alive so it will be an interesting race for sure.  I’m looking forward to the race, it’s going to be interesting that’s for sure.

“We need a clean start, and after that, hopefully, we can do a good job. I’ve been on the podium here before but this time I want to be on a different step.”

How reliable is the Red Bull RB19?

As it stands, he knows it, and everyone that follows F1 knows, the race in Melbourne on Sunday is Verstappen’s to lose, with his only real challenger so far this season – Perez – starting last, expect the Dutchman to cruise off into the distance, if the RB19 enjoys the kind of race pace witnessed in Bahrain and Jeddah.

Of course, technical niggles always loom in F1, hence Verstappen’s grid penalty for a broken driveshaft in qualifying and alarm bells late in the Saudi race will be on their minds. Coupled with Perez’s issue in the other Bull, on Saturday, might those pose problems for the World Champs?

“No,” said Verstappen: “Reliability is not a problem; we’ll continue to fine-tune. It was just very tough to get the tires to work. The whole weekend, and it would not have mattered if we had more running.”

Horner: we weren’t doing the build and push laps

Red Bull team principal Horner was chuffed with his main man and said: “Max did an outstanding job in qualifying, particularly in these conditions and on this track. It wasn’t easy to put the car in the right window; the last run was very good but the whole weekend it’s been tough to do it.

“Our strategy was slightly different today, we weren’t doing the build and push laps, so it was all about getting the optimum out lap, getting the temperature he needed into the tyres then nailing the lap which he managed perfectly,” concluded Horner.

Verstappen leads Perez by a single point in the F1 driver’s standings ahead of Round 3, the pair have won a race each, while Red Bull are easily top of the F1 constructors’ standings, more than double the points of their closest rivals – Aston Martin.

Red Bull have won only once at Albert Park, when Sebastian Vettel did the business for them at the 2011 Australian Grand Prix. Sunday they should double that tally, with Verstappen. Anything less would be a failure for the dominant team.