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Verstappen makes his mark: "I love unpredictable and tricky conditions"

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Verstappen makes his mark: "I love unpredictable and tricky conditions"
Mar 28, 2015, 5:40 PM

Max Verstappen scored the best F1 qualifying result for a teenager since 1961 today with 6th place on the grid for the Malaysian Grand Prix, but th...

Max Verstappen scored the best F1 qualifying result for a teenager since 1961 today with 6th place on the grid for the Malaysian Grand Prix, but the way he did it and the difficult conditions marked it out as something special.

There has been a lot of hype around Verstappen, whose elevation to F1 at the age of 17 ruffled many feathers when it was announced.

Max Verstappen

But in the first two races already he has shown some of the qualities which marked him out to Red Bull's talent scouts and his performance on intermediate tyres today in qualifying, with so little F1 experience to draw on, has registered profoundly in the F1 paddock.

In wet situations like Q3 today, it is all about a driver's innate feel for the movement of the car beneath him and his reading of the grip level available. It is a leveller, because the car is less important (although the more downforce the car has the better it performs in the wet)

"It's so hard, the first lap (in the wet)" confirmed pole sitter Lewis Hamilton after his own stunning performance in qualifying today.

"You go into Turn 1 and you don't know where the grip is, you don't know where to brake. In the dry you practice, you brake just after the 100m board for Turn 1, for example. But in the wet you just have to feel it. So it is easy to get it wrong."

Verstappen had not felt quite on top of things in the dry conditions of Q1, making a mistake when going too deep in the brakes early on for the final corner.

"In Q2 I was happy when it started to rain," said the Dutchman. "Those are conditions that I like; unpredictable and tricky.

"You are on the edge with the car, that's what I like."

Max Verstappen

There was a mad dash to get out after the 45 minuted long rain delay, for the start of Q3. Verstappen posted a 1m 52.896 on his first flying lap, faster than Sebastian Vettel's first effort, over second up on Daniil Kvyat's first effort and comparable with Felipe Massa's best lap on intermediates at the end of the session.

He pitted for new intermediate tyres and posted an improved lap of 1m 51.981s, good enough for sixth but only 3/100ths slower than the Red Bull of Kvyat which has more downforce.

For the 17 year old who has not experienced races longer than one hour, the physical challenge of 90 minutes in sweltering temperatures and high G forces will be a challenge tomorrow, but Verstappen is not concerned,

"I feel prepared. In the long runs we did on Friday I had no problems and anyway after half an hour in the car your body stabilises. So I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

"I’m not worried and hopefully we can score some points."

As a footnote, he equalled his father Jos' best F1 qualifying position of 6th, also achieved in his first season, 1994.
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Series Formula 1
Drivers Max Verstappen Shop Now
Teams Toro Rosso Shop Now