Australian GP: Max third after day 1: 'Quite happy with first day'

Published on 15 March 2019 by Stefan Meens

Max Verstappen finished the first day of the Australian Grand Prix in third. The Mercedes’ of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were quickest with the world champion heading the timing sheets. Max’ team mate and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Pierre Gasly clocked the fourth fastest time around the Albert Park street circuit in Melbourne.

“I’m quite happy with our first day”, said Max after FP2. “We did a lot of laps and the lap times weren’t too bad, although Mercedes looked quick. They’ve done their homework. We still have some work to do and a lot to analyse.”

The Dutchman added: “Generally speaking, the car feels good. There are always things you can improve but we’ll look at that tonight. On the engine front, there were no issues. It ran well.” Regarding Red Bull’s pace compared to Ferrari, Max is coy: “We’ll see tomorrow. We can only look at ourselves and we can’t be fully happy yet. Of course, there is room for improvement, but that’s the same for everyone. It’s only the first day of the season.” 

At the start of the session, Romain Grosjean is the first on track in his Haas. After the Frenchman sets a lap time, it is over five minutes before other drivers venture out on track. When they do, it is mainly on the medium Pirelli tyre. On that compound, the Mercedes’ of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton set the pace, before being split by Max who climbs to P2.

Whereas most other drivers opt for runs on the soft Pirellis after the first half hour, Max choses for a long stint on the mediums. It means the Dutchman finds himself in P8 at the halfway point of FP2. Near the end of the session, with fifteen minutes on the clock, Max heads out for a few laps on a new set of the soft tyres. Despite losing time in the second sector, he manages the third quickest time, eight tenths behind Hamilton.

Australian GP contest: win a RBR Driver Cap 2019 and 1:8 2016 Verstappen helmet!