At Albert Park it will be Charles Leclerc on pole for the race on Sunday after an impressive day in the Ferrari. It’s his second pole of the season as he looks to steal the early momentum in the championship fight.
The current Championship leader will have to fight off the two Red Bulls behind on his own after a Q3 to forget for Carlos Sainz.
For the first time since the turbo hybrid era began, Lewis Hamilton doesn’t start from pole in Melbourne, although the Brit limited the damage with P5.
Agony at Aston Martin
It has been a return to Albert Park to forget for Aston Martin so far. Sebastian Vettel probably got more lap time in on his scooter rather than the Aston Martin! After problems throughout practice, it was a race against time to get the cars out on track.
Lance Stroll managed to get out with just under five minutes remaining, with Vettel not in the cockpit. Then, Stroll and Nicholas Latifi collided, bringing out the red flag. This gave Vettel’s side of the garage enough time to get the four time world champion out for a lap. Unfortunately, he wasn’t quick enough to make it into Q2.
Red Bull took the advantage from Q1, taking a 1-2 with Max Verstappen leading from Sergio Perez ahead of Leclerc and Sainz. Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas completed the top six as both Mercedes cars snuck into the top 10.
Alex Albon, Kevin Magnussen, Sebastian Vettel, Nicholas Latifi and Nick Stroll all had to bow out at the end of Q1.
Valtteri Bottas’ Streak is Over
After 103 consecutive Q3 appearances, Bottas’ streak ended at the 104th attempt. He could only manage P12 at Albert Park, ending his impressive run.
Perez lead the Ferraris of Sainz and Leclerc with Verstappen in P4, setting up an enthralling battle heading into Q3. The Mexican driver could have a penalty on his way however, he is being investigated after qualifying for failing to slow under a yellow flag.
Pierre Gasly, Valtteri Bottas, Yuki Tsunoda, Guanyu Zhou and Mick Schumacher were unable to make it into the top 10 shootout.
Charles Leclerc on Pole
After looking impressive all weekend, qualifying ended early for Alonso who hit the wall at turn 11. He couldn’t drop from 4th gear and brought out the second red flag of qualifying.
Leclerc just about managed to get across the line with the quickest time of the opening runs before the red flag. His teammate wasn’t as fortunate.
Verstappen responded by going quickest on the final runs, but it wasn’t enough for pole. Leclerc managed to go quicker again to usurp the Dutchman. It was a disappointing session in the other half of the garage for Ferrari. After the red flag ruined the opening run for Sainz, he will have to start P9. He made an error on the second run which prevented him from setting a competitive time.
Lando Norris placed his McLaren on the second row with Perez. Mercedes managed to have a good day for where they are at the moment. The Silver Arrows secured P5 and P6 with Hamilton outperforming his teammate.
Charles Leclerc was delighted with his exploits on Saturday: “The free practice sessions were quite messy for me, but in Q3 I managed to put everything together, so it feels great – I’m very happy to be on pole tomorrow!”
Max Verstappen was left wanting more: “For me this weekend so far has been all over the place, I’m happy to be second, but as a team we want more.”
Sergio Perez wants to entertain the Australian crowd: “P3 is a decent start for tomorrow. Hopefully we can give the fans a nice race.”
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