F1 rookie Max Verstappen reckons he could have joined Toro Rosso team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr in the final phase of Australian Grand Prix qualifying had it not been for a minor mistake on his final lap.

Both drivers, making their full F1 debuts in Melbourne this weekend, have impressed with their poise and pace through practice, and appeared contenders for Q3 as they battled with Red Bull and Lotus in the early stages of qualifying. While Sainz progressed to the final shoot-out, however, Verstappen came up short, and had to settle for the outside of row six.

"Q1 was good, and the start of Q2 was good, but I was just not completely happy with the warm-up of the tyres as I had some traffic in front of me and had to slow down quite a lot," the Dutch teenager explained, "My first run on softs in Q2 was not perfect and then, on my second run, the first few corners were quite good and I was 3-4 tenths up on my own lap time. Unfortunately, I lost even more out of turn four because of an oversteer moment.

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"I basically missed the inside kerb and then, in that corner, you get quite a lot of oversteer and I still tried to push, went a bit too wide, got a big oversteer moment, the rear tyres heated up too much and the lap was over. But that's part of my learning curve..."

Whilst finishing ahead of not only his predecessor at STR, Daniil Kvyat, but also both Force India and both McLarens was not to be sniffed at, Verstappen was convinced that he would have been better still had he not thrown away vital time.

"For sure, Q3!" he said when asked what he thought was possible, "For sure, we could have been close to Carlos.

The F3 graduate also had an unusual problem to contend with on an earlier run, radioing the pit to report that he could feel something unusual in the cockpit.

"The drinks tube was between my shoulder and the seat," he revealed, "I was not using it for qualifying so they taped it away for the last run - but maybe it should have been between my shoulder because the first one was better!

"It was a bit uncomfortable, but I don't think it hurt the lap time because the adrenaline is in and you don't feel it - it's only on the slower laps that you complain about it!"

Knowing that Kvyat scored points on his debut, albeit from the same position as will be occupied by Sainz on Sunday's grid, Verstappen is already setting his sights in the same direction.

"Hopefully we can score some points, because I think the race simulations we did in the winter were very promising," he noted, "I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I have one more set of soft [tyres] and, for sure, that can help on this track because the soft is the best tyre to run. Renault is working really hard and they are getting closer. We keep improving, so that's positive."