Before teammate Sergio Perez, who was running sixth, spun at Turn 13, bringing out a yellow flag and stopping the race, Verstappen recorded a lap time of 1m 10.342s in Q3. No one else was able to beat the Dutchman's mark.
The 2017 F1 season is all set to get underway at Albert Park, Melbourne. Before the lights turn green at the Australian Grand Prix, thestatesman.com takes a look at the five main teams that are certain to be hogging the headlines all year round.
Mercedes AMG Petronas
The past three years have seen a massive dominance by the Silver Arrows, with Lewis Hamilton (2014,15) and Nico Rosberg (2016) the chief protagonists for the Brackley-based team. Rosberg’s shocking departure after winning his maiden title, however, changes things dramatically for his replacement, Valterri Bottas is yet to feature on a podium, let alone win a race. So while Hamilton just might dominate the driver’s rankings, Mercedes’ stranglehold on the constructors title may be seen slipping in 2017.
Their car (the W08) has not been the quickest in pre-season testing, another reason to spark hopes among neutrals that the 2017 season will be see Toto Wolff-led team pushed to the limit by other manufacturers.
Drivers: Lewis Hamilton, Valterri Bottas
For most fans, Ferrari are the F1 team to support, despite their struggles in recent years (the last championship came in 2007).
They are eyeing a major comeback and if pre-season testing is anything to go by, the signs look good for F1’s most successful team. With drivers who have five championship titles between them, 2017 may just be the Prancing Horse’s year. Pre-season testing has seen them leading the pack but whether the results translate into success at the end of the year is a different story altogether.
Drivers: Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen
Red Bull Racing
Last year’s surprise package, in a sense that while everyone expected the fancied boys from Ferrari to push Mercedes, it was Red Bull who came a very creditable second in the constructor’s rankings. They have some of the brightest drivers in F1 and with the genius that is Adrian Newey running things from the paddock, the sky is the limit for 2017.
Drivers: Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen
Williams Martini Racing
Bottas’ departure to Mercedes has hurt Williams make no mistakes. For Massa has long been a fading force in F1, brought out of retirement after Bottas left and with rookie Lance Stroll the other part of the line-up, Williams may struggle to score regularly this season. Their pre-season testing wasn't the greatest and Stroll in particular, may find F1 to be a steeper learning curve than expected.
Drivers: Felipe Massa, Lance Stroll
Sahara Force India
The perennial dark horses of F1, the Mercedes-powered Force India team has an interesting drivers line-up for 2017. Sergio Perez has plenty to prove after an underwhelming stint at McLaren and while Esteban Octan is no rookie, he is still an unknown quantity most would say. While they have consistently punched above their weight, their 2017 season challenge will be to disrupt the ‘big three’ on a consistent basis.
Drivers: Sergio Perez, Esteban Octan