Leclerc takes pole position at Albert Park

Championship leader Charles Leclerc scored pole position at Albert Park by beating Max Verstappen in a qualifying session that was interrupted twice due to red flags and big crashes.

Leclerc led after the first runs in Q3, setting a time with one minute, 18.239 seconds just before Fernando Alonso crashed at Turn 11 – the right hander at the end of the back straight and the second DRS zone.

Alonso had just set a then best time in the middle sector when he lost the rear of his Alpine going through Turn 11, the two-time champion saying after he crashed having been sent into the gravel and then into the wall on the outside, that he had “lost the hydraulics” and “could not change gear”.

When the session resumed for the final Q3 runs – with all the qualifying running taking part on the soft tyres – Perez led the pack around, opting to leave earlier to take two flying laps while the rest built to a single final effort with two warm-up laps.

Perez’s second Q3 attempt ended up just 0.001 seconds shy of Leclerc’s earlier effort, before Verstappen forged ahead of both on with one minute, 18.154 seconds.

But Leclerc responded with purple sectors in the first and final thirds – Alonso retaining the best time in the middle sector – to post a time of one minute, 17.868 seconds and secure his second pole of the season by 0.286 seconds.

Perez’s third Q3 run ended up being no better than his second and he finished third, ahead of Lando Norris, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell in a run of three British drivers.

Hamilton had been trailing Russell with just the final Q3 laps to go – the Mercedes cars employing similar run length tactics to Perez after the Alonso red flag, which lasted nearly 15 minutes.

Home crowd favourite Daniel Ricciardo ended up in seventh position ahead of Esteban Ocon and Carlos Sainz.

Sainz was unfortunate to not complete his first Q3 flying lap just as the red flags were brought out for Alonso’s crash and he could not match his teammate’s pace in the final minutes.

Alonso took P10 as he did not set a time in Q3 as a result of his accident.

In Q2, which Perez topped, Pierre Gasly and Valtteri Bottas paid for not bettering their personal bests on their final laps as they exited in P11 and P12 – the latter losing his long Q3 appearance streak as a result.

Yuki Tsunoda and Zhou Guanyu did produce their best laps on their final fliers, which yielded P13 and P14 for the AlphaTauri and Alfa Romeo drivers respectively.

Mick Schumacher, who completed his last Q2 lap, a personal best, before most of the rest of the pack, took P15.

After the middle segment had concluded, several Q3 runners – including Leclerc, Hamilton and Verstappen – complained about the setting sun compromising their vision as they lapped the Albert Park circuit.

The visibility problem, which prompted Leclerc and Hamilton to request darker visors for Q3, was because the session was running long due to the delay following Alonso’s crash and Q1 being suspended with two minutes remaining following a massive crash between Canadians Nicholas Latifi and Lance Stroll.

Stroll had only just entered the fray once Aston Martin’s repairs on his car after his late FP3 crash, when the pair came together in an apparent misunderstanding regarding letting cars pass when on a slow lap as they exited Turn 5.

Latifi had just let Stroll by as they ran at slow speed towards Turn 5 – the tight, fast right hander than ends the track’s first sector – when the Williams accelerated and passed the Aston on its right hand side, with Zhou approaching both from behind at higher speed.

As Latifi was passing by, Stroll turned right – possibly to get out of Zhou’s way as is the requirement for drivers not on a flying lap – and the pair made contact, breaking the Aston’s right-front suspension and sending Latifi spearing into the wall and smashing all the corners on his Williams.

When the session resumed after a 15-minute delay, which Aston used to finish the repairs it had also been completing on Sebastian Vettel’s car that looked set to be incomplete before the red flag, a series of drivers queued at the end of the pitlane and then raced to gain a track position advantage and find the required tyre temperature for one final lap.

On that, only Gasly and Vettel were able to set personal bests, which meant Alex Albon and Kevin Magnussen – one of the most active on the final warm-up lap as he passed the Williams and Ricciardo to head the pack – missing the cut in P16 and P17 behind Schumacher, who out-qualified Magnussen for the first occasion in their time as Haas teammates.

Vettel’s effort was enough to get him ahead of Latifi’s time from before his crash with Stroll, who brought up the rear of the field with no time set.

As he returned to the pits at the end of Q1, Albon, who will drop three places on the Melbourne grid as a result of his crash with Stroll in the Jeddah race, was ordered to pull over and stop his car ahead of the penultimate corner when Williams detected a problem.

The crash between Latifi and Stroll will be investigated now qualifying has concluded, while Vettel was fined €600 for speeding in the pitlane during his brief appearance in Q1, which Verstappen led.

So congratulations to Charles Leclerc in scoring his second pole position of the season. The Ferrari F1–75 looks beautiful and fast and with Saudi Arabian Grand Prix winner Max Verstappen on the front row, we are ready for another battle for supremacy on race day. Bring it on!

Australian Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:17.868
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:18.154
3 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:18.240
4 Lando Norris McLaren 1:18.703
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:18.825
6 George Russell Mercedes 1:18.933
7 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:19.032
8 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:19.061
9 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1:19.408
10 Fernando Alonso Alpine –
11 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:19.226
12 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:19.410
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:19.424
14 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:20.155
15 Mick Schumacher Haas 1:20.465
16 Alex Albon Williams 1:20.135
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:20.254
18 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:21.149
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:21.372
20 Lance Stroll Aston Martin –

5 thoughts to “Leclerc takes pole position at Albert Park”

  1. Qualifying review as reported by

    Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took the first Australian Grand Prix pole position since 2019 with a blistering performance at Albert Park – with Max Verstappen lining up second on the grid for Sunday’s race and Sergio Perez a provisional third.

    The new layout relinquished a DRS zone ahead of FP3 – that session led by Lando Norris – on Saturday, with final practice seeing both Aston Martins crash and numerous drivers go off-track.

    Verstappen topped Q1 and Red Bull team mate Perez led Q2 – the Mexican driver under investigation for not slowing for a caution in Q1 – but Ferrari regrouped and it was Leclerc who aced the top 10 shootout with a time of 1m 17.868s to keep Verstappen 0.286s at bay in P2.

    Perez finished third by 0.372s while Lando Norris made use of his first Q3 appearance of the season in P4 – his team mate Daniel Ricciardo starting seventh at home.

    In between the McLarens was Lewis Hamilton in P5 and George Russell in P6 – and behind Ricciardo was Esteban Ocon in P8.

    Carlos Sainz was a shock P9 for Ferrari, 1.540s off his team mate in Q3.

    Fernando Alonso crashed out in Q3, a suspected hydraulics issue ending his sterling run, and lines up a provisional P10 for Alpine.

    Pierre Gasly missed out on the top 10 shootout in P11 but ahead of Valtteri Bottas, whose streak of 103 Q3 appearances ended with P12 for Alfa Romeo. Neither Yuki Tsunoda, Zhou Guanyu nor Mick Schumacher could make it out of Q2.

    Williams’ Alex Albon (P16, but with a three-place grid drop from Jeddah hanging over him for Sunday) and Haas driver Kevin Magnussen (P17) failed to leave Q1 after a red flag halted proceedings late in that session.

    Adding insult to injury for Aston Martin after a difficult weekend so far, Lance Stroll collected Williams’ Nicholas Latifi at Turn 5 in Q1, sending both out of the first segment in awkward high-speed incident. They took a provisional 19th and 20th while stewards deliberate.

    Sebastian Vettel’s mechanics managed to repair his Aston Martin after his FP3 crash and he emerged after that red flag with two minutes remaining in Q1, jumping to P18 on the provisional grid.

    Q1 – Red Bull set early pace before Stroll and Latifi crash out

    Traffic caused trouble in Q1 for numerous drivers and red flags duly flew with two minutes remaining as Nicholas Latifi allowed Lance Stroll past, after which Stroll slowed down and Latifi tried to get back around the Aston Martin at Turn 5 – the two coming together as Latifi was sent around in a high-speed crash.

    Before that incident, Max Verstappen shrugged off his FP3 difficulties to set the fastest time in Q1, 1m 18.580s, with Sergio Perez in P2 but 0.254s off his team mate. That left the Ferraris third and fourth, Charles Leclerc three-tenths off the pace and Carlos Sainz another tenth away – with Fernando Alonso fifth for Alpine.

    In P6 was Valtteri Bottas of Alfa Romeo – McLaren’s FP3 leader Lando Norris three-hundredths behind in P7 – to put Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton eighth and team mate George Russell ninth.

    Pierre Gasly improved after the red flag to take P10 ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, and Daniel Ricciardo also emerged after the stoppage to take P12 – Yuki Tsunoda settling for 13th in his AlphaTauri and Zhou Guanyu P14 in the other Alfa Romeo.

    As a result, Mick Schumacher was the last to emerge from Q1 in P15 (by just 0.026s) at the expense of 16th-place Alex Albon in the Williams. Schumacher’s team mate Kevin Magnussen, 17th, could not improve. The order however will change as Albon carries a three-place grid penalty for his collision with Stroll in Saudi Arabia.

    Vettel, having crashed out of FP3, emerged after the red flag thanks to a herculean response from his crew, and managed to jump to P18 with Latifi 19th and Stroll last – piling more pressure on Aston Martin after his FP3 crash – on the provisional grid.

    Knocked out: Albon, Magnussen, Vettel, Latifi, Stroll

    Q2 – Perez to the top as Ferrari hit back

    It soon emerged that Perez was under investigation for not slowing under yellow flags in Q1, but the Mexican kept up his strong form and posted the early benchmark of 1m 18.340s to go top, with Sainz and Leclerc improving to take P2 and P3 respectively and bumping Verstappen to fourth (+0.271s off P1).

    Alonso again took P5, 0.475s off in his Alpine, while Norris took P6 ahead of Mercedes’ Russell in P7 and Hamilton in P8.

    With Norris having cemented McLaren’s first Q3 appearance of the season, Ricciardo joined in by improving late on for P9. Alpine’s Ocon finished 10th, making it through to Q3 by just 0.070s at the expense of compatriot Gasly as AlphaTauri missed out on the top 10 shoot-out.

    As for Bottas, in 12th for Alfa Romeo, he missed out on a 104th consecutive Q3 appearance by just over two tenths of a second.

    Tsunoda, Zhou and Schumacher were the last three to be eliminated in Q2 – with the latter two over a second off safety.

    Knocked out: Ocon, Bottas, Zhou, Schumacher, Tsunoda

    Q3 – Leclerc fights back after Alonso crashes out

    Alonso’s brilliant run came to a painful end when his Alpine swapped ends at Turn 11, bringing out a red flag with seven minutes remaining. It turned out that a suspected issue with the hydraulics had sent his Alpine through the gravel and out of contention.

    Before Alonso’s unfortunate crash, Leclerc had set the fastest time of 1m 18. 239s to leave Perez second and Verstappen third, while the red flag caused Sainz to fail to register what had seemed a competitive lap. However, there was plenty of time – more than six minutes – for the order to change.

    Verstappen eclipsed Leclerc’s time but only for a few seconds as the Monegasque hit back with a time of 1m 17.896s, leaving the Dutchman 0.286s off but sharing the front row. Perez, awaiting news of a possible penalty, was 0.372s off pole in a provisional P3.

    In fourth, enjoying his first Q3 appearance of the season, was Norris – his team mate Ricciardo two-tenths away in P7 at home.

    Mercedes opted for two flying efforts, Russell going half a tenth ahead of Hamilton on his first one – with the seven-time champion having made a mistake in Sector 3. The second effort saw Hamilton jump to P5, a tenth ahead of sixth-place Russell on the provisional grid.

    Alpine’s Ocon finished eighth, while Sainz went wide at Turn 10 after the red flag and finished 1.540s off his pole-sitting team mate, in ninth, as his hunt for pole position continues. That left Alonso 10th – a purple second sector hinting agonisingly at what could have been for the two-time champion.

  2. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc “couldn’t see anything” due to setting sun in Melbourne qualifying. has the news story.

    Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc had “zero idea where the limit of the track was” due to the setting sun late in the disrupted Melbourne Formula 1 qualifying, where he grabbed pole.

    Leclerc was heard asking Ferrari to give him a new helmet fitted “the darkest visor you have” as the drivers struggled for visibility as the golden late-evening sunshine impacted their ability to see.

    The issue arose because qualifying ran over 30 minutes deeper into the evening due to two lengthy red flag periods following the crash between Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi in Q1 and then Fernando Alonso’s Q3 accident, while Alex Albon’s post-Q1 stoppage also meant Q2’s start was held up by a few minutes longer than planned.

    Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen were also picked up complaining about the sun costing them visibility at the end of Q2, with Leclerc going on to beat the latter to pole in Melbourne.

    Leclerc said that in Q2 “we just couldn’t see anything” due to the low sun, after which he was able to make his requested visor change.

    When asked by how much of a difference that switch had made, Leclerc, who was speaking in the post-qualifying press conference, replied: “Honestly, in Q2 my first lap I took a lot of risks there because I had no idea where the limit of the track was.

    “You are just guessing a little bit and it’s just with the rhythm of the weekend you know more or less than you need to turn ‘here’.

    “But I really had zero idea where the limit of the track was and it was very tricky.

    “So then we went for a darker visor. I think the first run in Q3 there was some clouds around, so that was perfect.

    “And then for the last run in Q3 braking for Turn 1 was still very, very bad [with visibility].

    “But I don’t think we can do anything – even with the darkest visor it’s still not enough and it would be took dark for the rest of the track where there were clouds.

    “So, it’s just a compromise that we have to find. But it’s the same for everyone at the end.

    “But it was definitely extremely tricky and the last sector also on the last Q3 lap I lost a little bit, but just because it was very difficult to see where I was.”

    Sergio Perez, who finished third behind Leclerc and Verstappen, stated that the “biggest thing” impacting his performance in qualifying “was the sun”.

    He added: “It was coming down a lot and getting darker, so we were playing with the visors quite a lot.

    “On my first Q3 run one I was completely dark and there was no sun, so I went back and then there was a lot of sun. Didn’t get it right [with] the visor.”

  3. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen admitted he was “all over the place” despite front row for Australian Grand Prix. has the full details.

    Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen says he was “all over the place” in the Red Bull after qualifying second for the Australian Grand Prix.

    In Melbourne, Verstappen took over provisional pole from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc with his second run in Q3, but with his final effort Leclerc struck back to take his second pole of the 2022 season by 0.286s.

    Despite qualifying on the front row Verstappen admitted he hadn’t felt comfortable in the Red Bull RB18 all weekend on a single lap, saying he was “all over the place”.

    “I didn’t really feel good in the whole weekend so far,” Verstappen said straight after the qualifying session, which was red flagged for an incident between Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi and for a crash by Fernando Alonso.

    “I think there’s not been one lap where I actually felt confident, so a bit of a struggle. Of course, second is still a good result but just not feeling that great to go to the limit. We will try to analyse it.”

    “Probably in race pace everything stabilises a bit, but for me this weekend so far it has been all over the place.

    “Of course, happy to be second, but I think also as a team we want more.”

    Leclerc said he was surprised by his qualifying pace as he felt Albert Park was a track he struggled with in the past and revealed he hadn’t been able to put a great lap together until it mattered in Q3.

    “It felt good, even more because it’s a track where I’ve always struggled in the past as a driver,” the 2022 championship leader said.

    “This weekend, we really worked hard. It was a bit messy for the three free practices session for me. I managed to do some good laps, but not everything together.

    “In Q3 I managed to put everything together, so it feels great and I’m very happy to be starting on pole tomorrow.

    “The car is nice to drive but the Red Bulls were very quick in FP2 during the long fuel run.

    “To be honest we were quite surprised by our pace in qualifying, so everything is possible tomorrow. We just need to do a good start and then hopefully we can keep that first position.”

    Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez qualified third just under a tenth behind the Dutchman, while Carlos Sainz could only muster ninth in the second Ferrari after having to abort his first flyer due to an unfortunately timed red flag.

  4. Alpine’s Fernando Alonso commented that he was in a fight for the Australian Grand Prix pole before the car developed a hydraulics problem. has the news story.

    Fernando Alonso reckons he was in the hunt for pole position at the Australian Grand Prix before an hydraulics problem put him in the wall in Q3.

    The Spaniard has looked strong all weekend, and had just set a purple middle sector time in the first runs in Q3 when an hydraulic problem shut down his car – pitching him off the track a few corners from the end of the lap.

    Alonso reckoned there was nothing he could do as the accident left him 10th on the grid, as he said it ‘hurt’ just how unlucky he has been with mechanical problems this year.

    “The gearbox was not working anymore,” he said. “The engine also switched off, power steering switched off. So I think there is something that we need to investigate when the car is back.

    “It is unbelievable how unlucky we are, because 20 seconds later, maybe we were on pole if the car stops in Turn 1, instead of Turn 11. These races are difficult to explain.”

    Alonso has no doubts that he had a car that could have taken pole position, as he urged his Alpine team to get to the bottom of the niggling reliability problems that have hit his side of the garage.

    Asked if there was a genuine concern about the failures, Alonso said: “Only for my car it is a concern… the other car seems okay.

    “That’s why I say it is a little bit unlucky, because if we have a reliability problem on both cars, then they are facing issues. It could be something that we need to fix.

    “But it seems quite random. And it is quite random on my car and in the moments that we are fast. In Bahrain when we were P9 or P10 maybe you don’t care if the car stops because it’s only one point, but in Jeddah we were okay and today top two or top three was guaranteed I think, and it hurts.”

    Alonso reckoned that before his crash, the weekend in Australia had been his best outing for years.

    “I think the car is getting better and better,” he said. “We feel more confident. The team is working hard.

    “I mean, maybe [it was] a surprise to fight for pole but not a surprise to be closer and closer to the leaders. I think yeah, it has been the best weekend for years for me, and it is so frustrating not to execute it at the end.”

  5. After qualifying in a solid fourth position, Lando Norris believes McLaren’s upswing form was largely due to the Melbourne track specific. has the details.

    Lando Norris believes McLaren’s impressive form in Melbourne is chiefly due to its MCL36 Formula 1 car suiting the Albert Park track after qualifying fourth on Saturday.

    McLaren endured a miserable start to the season in Bahrain as both Norris and teammate Daniel Ricciardo failed to score any points, having struggled to compete with majority of the midfield teams.

    Progress was made in Saudi Arabia one week later as Norris finished seventh, but the team made a big step forward in Australia as the British driver qualified fourth, only trailing Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and the Red Bull duo of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

    Ricciardo also reached Q3 for the first time this season, taking seventh on the grid for his home grand prix.

    Norris felt there was a “split” in explaining the reason for McLaren’s step forward in Australia, but that most of it was down to the track layout suiting the car’s strengths.

    “There are some things which we have done well, and we still managed to extract naturally a bit more performance out of the car by understanding a few more things, and going a little bit more in a different direction with the set-up,” Norris said.

    “But at the same time, I think the majority of it is just the track. We’ve not brought anything that has changed much, and it’s not like we can do that much more with the set-up to make it go a lot quicker.

    “It’s more 70-30, or 80-20 in terms of 80 is just track and 20 is just hard work.”

    Ricciardo felt that while there were similarities between the track in Jeddah and Melbourne that suited McLaren, he believed the team was “starting to get on top of the car a little bit more”.

    “It’s not like we brought something crazy different this weekend,” Ricciardo said. “I think it’s still probably more of a track dependent performance at the moment. But yeah, I think we’re building good confidence with the car and being able to push it, getting closer to the limit. That also helps.”

    McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl acknowledged the importance of the track layout working to the car’s strengths, but also felt the small upgrades brought to Melbourne had aided its progress, as well as an improved understanding after losing ground during pre-season testing.

    “There are three main reasons why we have been again a bit more competitive compared to Jeddah,” Seidl said.

    “For sure, it’s the track layout which suits our car more with the current package that we are having, this more fluent track layout similar to Jeddah as well.

    “Then I think in terms of performance, we brought some small upgrades which worked, and every little bit helps.

    “But then also we shouldn’t forget that we started the season really on the back foot, with missing out on a lot of laps at the Bahrain test. We had to learn still a lot about this new car in the first two race weekends, and we’ve had now the chance to apply these learnings.

    “That’s where performance is also coming from. And I think if you put that altogether, that made us again a bit more competitive here, which is great.

    “It’s simply a great reward, a boost also for the team, to simply keep going and keep working hard to bring more performance to the track.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *