Max Verstappen admits he was surprised in Bahrain

Max Verstappen has admitted that he was surprised at the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, after Red Bull had struggled.

Qualifying for the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix could not have gone any better for Red Bull, as Max Verstappen went quickest in Q3 and will be joined on the front row by his teammate Sergio Perez.

Verstappen and Perez went head-to-head on the final run of Q3 for pole position and the Dutchman came out on top, with his stunning 1:29:708 time being quick enough for P1.

Heading into qualifying, it seemed that both Ferrari and Aston Martin could give Red Bull problems, making their one-two finish look even more impressive.

The first pole sitter of the season has admitted that he was “positively surprised” after going quickest in qualifying, having struggled in practice with some small issues with his RB19.

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Verstappen’s car was struggling during Friday’s practice sessions in the slow corners, with the Red Bull admitting that the Dutchman’s car was behaving strangely during practice compared to the car of Sergio Perez.

Behind Red Bull’s front row lockout will be both Ferrari’s, as Charles Leclerc ended qualifying in third place ahead of his teammate Carlos Sainz.

Bizarrely, Leclerc did not make a final attempt to knock Verstappen off of pole position, exiting his SF-23 in the garage with a couple of minutes left to go in the session.

When asked about Red Bull’s qualifying performance, Verstappen expressed his delight at his team’s ability to maximise their performance after a hit and miss start to the weekend. 

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“I think it’s been a bit of a tough start to the weekend yesterday and today not really finding my rhythm but, luckily, in qualifying I think we managed to put the best pieces together and [I’m] very happy to be in pole position,” he explained.

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“Having such a strong car with Checo up there as well, it’s amazing and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

With Red Bull locking out the front row ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix, the energy drink giants will be the clear favourites to start the season with a win.

The team cannot take anything for granted following last year however, as Red Bull experienced a late double DNF very late in the race while fighting for the top positions.