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  • Writer's pictureDrew Bentham

F1 Australian GP Qualifying Report


Verstappen continues his run of form
Verstappen continues his run of form


Dutchman Max Verstappen claimed his first Melbourne pole position and 22nd career pole when he proved a class above once again in Saturday qualifying. Mexican teammate Sergio Pérez's Q1 track exit saw him end up on the back row of the grid for Sunday's F1 Australian GP.


After Pérez beached his car in the Turn 3 gravel during a tricky Q1 where the yellow flags flew, Verstappen stepped up in Q3 to set a time of 1m 16.732s ahead of the two Mercedes with Scuderia AlphaTauri duo Yuki Tsunoda and Nyck de Vries finishing in 12th and 15th respectively.


Sainz set the pace in the first part of qualifying, leading leading the pack on hard tyres. Out in Q1 were Nico Hulkenberg (Haas), Pierre Gasly (Alpine), Daniel Ricciardo (RB) and Zhou Guanyu (Sauber). As widely reported already, Logan Sargeant didn't take part in qualifying, instead Albon took over his car after a crash on Friday morning damaged his chassis.


Ferrari remained quickest in Q2, with Sainz again topping the charts and Leclerc moving up to second. Verstappen was only two tenths off the pace in 3rd, as Red Bull continued to lag behind on medium tyres.

Knocked out at this point were Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Alex Albon (Williams), Valtteri Bottas (Sauber), Kevin Magnussen (Haas) and Esteban Ocon (Alpine).


Albon had suffered a big off in Turn 6 during Friday morning's first free practice session, which prompted a chassis change. Because Williams didn't have a spare chassis at its disposal, the team made a shock decision to let Albon use team-mate Sargeant's car, meaning the American will sit out the rest of the Melbourne weekend.


"While Logan should not have to suffer from a mistake that he did not make, every race counts when the midfield is tighter than ever, so we have made the call based on our best potential to score points this weekend," team boss James Vowles said.


Lewis Hamilton said the inconsistency of his Mercedes car "really messes with the mind" after making a surprise early exit from qualifying at the Australian Grand Prix. Hamilton's underwhelming start to his final season with Mercedes ahead of his move to Ferrari continued in Melbourne on Saturday as he qualified 11th for Sunday's race. After Friday practice, he had described the session as "one of the worst sessions for a long time" but Mercedes appeared to have made significant overnight progress when Hamilton finished within a tenth of pace-setter Charles Leclerc in final practice on Saturday morning.


On his first run, Verstappen set a benchmark time of 1m16.048s to set the pace at the top and put a stop to Ferraris success during the first two legs of qualifying. Sainz held second place, three tenths down on Verstappen. Aswe've come to expect, Verstappen improved to a 1m15.915s, granting him a third consecutive pole of 2024. Sainz couldn't even break the 1m16s barrier as he ended up second, while Perez showed vastly improved form to take third. Leclerc was only fifth, behind the top McLaren of Lando Norris.


Albon used Sargents' car after a crash in FP1
Albon used Sargents' car after a crash in FP1

The top 10 grid looks like this for race day tomorrow.


CLA

DRIVER

#

TIME

INTERVAL

KM/H

1

M. Verstappen RED BULL RACING

1

1'15.915


250.290

2

C. Sainz FERRARI

55

+0.270

1'16.185

0.270

249.403

3

S. Perez RED BULL RACING

11

+0.359

1'16.274

0.089

249.112

4

L. Norris MCLAREN

4

+0.400

1'16.315

0.041

248.978

5

C. Leclerc FERRARI

16

+0.520

1'16.435

0.120

248.587

6

O. Piastri MCLAREN

81

+0.657

1'16.572

0.137

248.142

7

G. Russell MERCEDES

63

+0.809

1'16.724

0.152

247.651

8

Y. Tsunoda RB

22

+0.873

1'16.788

0.064

247.444

9

L. Stroll ASTON MARTIN RACING

18

+1.157

1'17.072

0.284

246.533

10

F. Alonso ASTON MARTIN RACING

14

+1.637

1'17.552

0.480

245.007


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