Mercedes far ahead, as expected - Verstappen

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Max Verstappen wasn't the least bit surprised to see Lewis Hamilton emerge on top at the end of qualifying in Australia, nothing the team had expected them to be dominant. The Dutch Red Bull driver though was left to rue a mistake that may have cost him second place on the grid.

“Even with a small mistake I really enjoyed Qualifying today", Verstappen said.

"It’s difficult to say what I expected heading into the session but it should have been a little bit better. I made a mistake on my last fast lap and went wide at turn 13 which lost me a few tenths compared to my previous run, we were still very close to Ferrari which is positive but maybe we could have been second."

"Mercedes were quite far ahead as expected, had I not made my mistake I think I would have only been about half a second off Lewis which is closer than in the past.

With Bottas eliminated, Lewis Hamilton was the only benchmark for Mercedes at the end of qualifying. The World Champion, after having been closely matched by his rivals in earlier runs, left everybody bit the dust, leaving 0.7s between himself and the competition.

"All things considered and with the right strategy I think we can be competitive during the race tomorrow, with Mercedes I’m not sure but I think we can have a good fight with Ferrari."

Just like team mate Ricciardo, who is set to start from 8th after being hit by a 3-place grid penalty for failing to slow down enough under a red flag on Friday, Verstappen is set to start the race on super soft, rather than the ultra soft that all other cars from the top 10 will be starting with.

"We are hoping to go a bit longer with our tyre selection so if we stay out of trouble at the start we can settle in and have a strong race. I am happy with the pace and feel for the first race weekend, so I’m hopeful we can improve and move forward from here, not just tomorrow but for the rest of the season.”