"I want to be on a different step this time": Max Verstappen targets first-ever Australian GP triumph after putting in a stunning lap to claim pole
Max Verstappen has admitted to looking forward to winning the 2023 F1 Australian GP after claiming his maiden pole position around the Albert Park Circuit during qualifying.
All of Red Bull's hopes for the session rested on the Dutchman's shoulders after teammate Sergio Perez beached his RB19 in the gravel during Q1.
Verstappen did not disappoint and led the timing charts in each of the three qualifying sessions to take pole position ahead of the Mercedes duo of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton. In the process, the reigning world champion took Red Bull's first pole at the venue since 2013.
Max Verstappen shared his thoughts with Sky Sports' Naomi Schiff in parc ferme after the session. He said:
"I think the last run was very good. I mean, the whole weekend has been very tough to get the tyres in the right window to push straight away but it all worked out in Q3 so yeah, very happy with the lap and of course very happy to be on pole position and already looking forward to tomorrow really."
When asked if he felt there could be any potential reliability issues to deal with after he was heard complaining about gearshifts during qualifying, Verstappen said:
"No, normally not. It's just a thing we always try to fine-tune and we'll continue to do that."
The 25-year-old concluded the interview by outlining his intention to finish the race weekend on the top step of the podium after nearly being caught out by the local fauna in Melbourne. He said:
"Almost hit a bird. Luckily that didn't happen but yeah, that happens sometimes on a street circuit but I think tomorrow we'll have a good race car but again, it's quite tricky on the tyres to keep them alive. So, it's going to be an interesting race for sure. I have been on the podium once but I want to be on a different step this time."
Max Verstappen will be keen to avenge 2022 F1 Australian GP result
Having claimed pole Down Under for the first time in his career, Max Verstappen will be keen to avenge his misfortune at the Albert Park Circuit in 2022.
The two-time world champion was in P2 behind Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc in last year's race and looked destined to battle it out for the win in the final stages of the Grand Prix.
However, the Dutchman's charge was derailed after he was forced to retire his RB18 due to a mechanical failure as Leclerc went on to claim his second win of the season then.
This time around, Max Verstappen will have to contend with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton after Mercedes pulled a rabbit out of the hat during qualifying.
It should be noted that the Silver Arrows have a reputation for performing well in colder temperatures, as made evident by their impressive showing at the Hungaroring last year.
With temperatures expected to be pretty low around the venue on race day, the Dutchman may have his work cut out for him in the fight for the win.