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Verstappen: "Little tickles" to car the key to F1 Australian GP pole

Max Verstappen has credited his Australian Grand Prix pole to "little tickles" that improved the efficacy of his Red Bull car throughout the Formula 1 qualifying sessions in Melbourne.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The championship leader bagged his third pole of the season, denying Ferrari and Carlos Sainz a chance to lead the field away on Sunday despite the Spaniard heading both Q1 and Q2.

Verstappen had struggled with the balance of his RB20 throughout the weekend so far, but incrementally drew closer to the front as Red Bull dialled the car in to the peculiarities of the Albert Park circuit.

Continuous set-up tweaks ensured that, by the time Q3 had rolled around, Verstappen was able to deliver a hammer blow to Ferrari's hopes of securing a first pole position of 2024 - and ended the day with a 1m15.915s that Sainz was unable to beat.

"I think so far this weekend, it has been a bit tough to find a good balance in the car - and even throughout qualifying, Q1, Q2, I didn't really feel like fighting for pole," Verstappen explained.

"But then we made some little tickles on the car, and that seemed to help me in Q3 to really push it to the limit. And both of my laps, I felt quite happy with it.

"There's always things that you can improve, but overall, I'm very satisfied with the performance."

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Sam Bagnall / Motorsport Images

Asked if he was chasing the car more than usual, Verstappen responded in the affirmative and reiterated that it was only through fine-tuning the machine that Red Bull had been able to ensure he continued its 100% record of poles this season.

He added that there had been "more to come" from the car, but that the challenging nature of the Australian circuit meant that it was difficult to hook every single corner up perfectly.

"I tried to do the best I could - I mean, I think if you go corner after corner, maybe there are a few things that you can do better," he said.

"It is always when you're under pressure, flat out around this track, it's very hard to nail every single corner like on any other track.

"But, in general, I was very pleased with the laps that we did."

Verstappen faced a disrupted Friday practice, going through a delay to the start of FP2 when Red Bull made fixes to his floor and chassis after a kerb strike in first practice.

However, he did not expect that disruption to affect his performance in the race, and that he had been able to collect more race-relevant data during Saturday's FP3 session.

"We did quite a bit even this morning so, from that side, I don't think [it has hurt us]," he explained. "It's just that it was a bit harder to find a good balance in the car.

'We'll find out tomorrow if it's going to be good enough. It looks like Ferrari is also very fast and quite comfortable the whole weekend already. Hopefully it will be an interesting race tomorrow."

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