TORO ROSSO ROOKIES: Max Verstappen (pictured here) will start the 2015 Australian GP in 12th place behind team mate and fellow rookie Carlos Sainz jnr in 8th. Image: AP / Rob Griffith
MELBOURNE, Australian - The three rookie drivers who took part in qualifying for the Formula 1 season-opening 2015 Australian GP all enjoyed successful debuts on Saturday (March 14), safely booking spots in themiddle of the pack at Albert Park.
Carlos Sainz, whose father and namesake was a double world rally champion in the 1990s, was the pick of the trio, qualifying eighth for Toro Rosso.
Team mate Max Verstappen, who will become the youngest driver to start a F1 race, was 12th, while Felipe Nasr was sandwiched between the pair in 11th after a roller-coaster day with his Sauber team.
TORO ROSSO ROOKIES IMPRESS
Nasr was only confirmed as a starter after Giedo van der Garde dropped his legal action against Sauber, allowing the team to race this weekend.
There were no such concerns for Toro Rosso, whose rookies both qualified ahead of Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat and the two McLarens.
Sainz, whose father was watching trackside, said: "I feel very comfortable in the car, I'm really enjoying myself a lot. It's difficult to know what to expect tomorrow, as it will be my first race, but I'm looking forward to it.
"It will surely be a bit of an adventure but this is what I've been preparing myself for the whole winter and I feel ready."
F1'S YOUNGEST DRIVER
Verstappen, who has hogged the team spotlight in the build-up to the race, was fourth fastest after the first stage of qualifying but slipped back to 12th after the second phase following a small mistake.
Verstappen said: "Unfortunately, I didn't get a good lap because the tyres were not ready. During the second push-lap, I made a mistake out of turn four, where I went a bit too wide and lost the rear, losing quite a lot of time.
"It's a shame but I can't change any of this now. I look forward to tomorrow, my first ever Formula one race. The car is working well and hopefully we will be able to score some points as we have a good race pace."
Toro Rosso technical director James Key said he was impressed by his drivers.
Key said: "It was a new experience for them in a very tightly-packed environment here and slightly trickier conditions out on track than what we've had all weekend.
"So it was a challenge for them but they managed to keep it together, they built-up extremely well with each new set of tyres and they adapted to the programme extremely well."
MANOR DRIVERS MISSING
Two other drivers embarking on their first full seasons in F1 were not as successful, however, when Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi were excluded from the race when Manor Marussia team were unable to get either car on the track for qualifying.
Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 Australian GP weekend!