Max Verstappen says he it will take some 'luck' to land a historic first Formula 1 podium in the Australian Grand Prix, though he was otherwise thrilled to be 'best of the rest' in fifth.
As the new qualifying format fell flat with fans, Verstappen provided an alternative headline with a fine run to a career-best fifth place as he and Toro Rosso kicked off their 2016 F1 campaign in fine style.
Top driver behind the Mercedes' and Ferrari's locking out the front two rows, Verstappen was delighted to emerge next up – a respectable six tenths off pole position -, with the Dutchman saying the car was working well with its year-old Ferrari engine.
“I didn't think we'd be this good [considering the winter], to be honest. We knew the car was handling well, but you don't know what other teams were doing,” he said. “Apparently they were quite on the limit, the car was working well. We made a good start on last year's car at this track, also the power unit. We can be very happy with P5, the car was great.”
Having qualified well on several occasions in 2015 only to drop back in part due to the compromised Renault power unit, Verstappen is confident this will not be the case this year. Even so, he admits the aim of a podium out of the box will be somewhat dependent on bad luck striking cars ahead.
“Last year we were OK in qualifying and we dropped off in the race because we had to do more fuel saving. The way the engine is working is better for us so normally we should be quite positive for us in the race. We won't be worse in the race.
“We are closer to a podium but we still need a bit of luck. We have to be realistic, Mercedes and Ferrari are in front, we are P5, we need a bit of luck.”