Verstappen eyes better luck in Malaysia after qualifying third

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen hopes he can make an impact on the Malaysian Grand Prix after qualifying third for Sunday's race.

Lewis Hamilton starts from pole position ahead of Kimi Raikkonen before the Red Bull second row lockout, with Verstappen, celebrating his 20th birthday, ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

After being eliminated from the Singapore Grand Prix before the first corner last time out, Verstappen is aiming play a larger part in proceedings in Kuala Lumpur.

"So far on Saturdays I’ve been a happy guy and on Sundays that has changed," said the Dutchman. "Let’s hope it is different tomorrow and I’m sure we can have a good race. I’m also hoping for no sandwiches!

"The whole weekend I was not fully happy with the car and in the last practice session I didn’t have the perfect balance, but in qualifying we managed to pull it together and the car was pretty good.

"To be four or five tenths off pole position on this track and knowing they can turn up their engines in Qualifying means we are doing a good job. I think on the long runs we are a bit more competitive so I’m definitely looking forward to tomorrow."

Daniel Ricciardo won the race last season after Hamilton's engine failure at the Sepang circuit, effectively costing him the championship.

And although he joked about allowing Verstappen to beat him in qualifying as a birthday present, Ricciardo hopes he can repeat his performance from last season, when he also started fourth.

He said: “I did all I could today and I think we both got the most out of the car. We’re half a second from Lewis around here so I think we can be pretty happy with that. It gives us a chance in the race tomorrow even if it’s dry. I would have loved to be on third today, but that half a tenth was actually Max’s birthday gift from me and I wanted to start on fourth really, because that’s where I started last year and I won.

"This is obviously all planned in my mind. I did a bit of a lift of the throttle just before the finish line, so yeah it’s of course all calculated. I think Seb is probably going to do a rain dance tonight so I might join him, hold hands and light some candles. But honestly, some rain would be interesting for the race, so we can dance tonight, as long as we don’t dance tomorrow. If he gets near me then, we haven’t had a good enough race.”