Verstappen takes pole as Mercedes lock out the front row for Australian GP

Verstappen takes pole as Mercedes lock out the front row for Australian GP

Max Verstappen took the pole position for the Australian Grand Prix ahead of the Mercedes duo as George Russell and Lewis Hamilton finished second and third respectively.

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen took pole position for Australian Grand Prix while his teammate Sergio Perez will start from the bottom of the grid for tomorrow’s race after locking up and veering out into the gravel at the start of qualifying.

Mercedes surprised everyone by coming out on top, with George Russell claiming the second spot on the front row and Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin following closely behind in third and fourth.

Less than 20 minutes before qualifying began, a short downpour threatened to have an impact on the first round. Nonetheless, all of the vehicles lined up on slick tires at the end of the pit lane while they awaited the green light.

The five teams in the top half of the constructors’ championship chose to stay in the garage as Q1 got underway, with the Williams FW45s of Alexander Albon and Logan Sargeant leading the field.

The initial runners’ fastest time was 1’19.392 by Kevin Magnussen, who was overtaken by Albon on his second push lap. Albon’s teammate Sargeant spun at turn 13 just at the end of his flying lap but managed to get back on the track and drove back to the garage, briefly bringing out the yellow flags.

The final practice had been difficult for Sergio Perez due to braking issues, and he had run off the track no less than four times. He experienced greater implications when the issue recurred on his first push lap in qualifying.

The Red Bull driver locked up as he braked at turn three and went off the track into the gravel. Perez begged the marshals to push him, but they refused, leaving him stuck in the gravel trap and his session virtually finished before it even began.

In order to recover the Red Bull, the red flags were brought out. The session resumed with little under 12 minutes left after an eight-minute interruption. Max Verstappen instantly surged to the top of the times with his first flying lap as several of his competitors chose to do a tyre preparation lap before driving all-out on their second lap.

Now, less than a tenth of a second separated Albon from Verstappen in second place, and Carlos Sainz Jr. placed third in the Ferrari.

Fernando Alonso comfortably beat out Verstappen with his first genuinely representative lap in the Aston Martin, but only for a brief period of time before Verstappen dropped the record time to a 1’17.469 second.

There was a fierce struggle to see who would be the four drivers to follow Perez in being eliminated from the opening phase with five minutes left.

Sargeant, Yuki Tsunoda, Valtteri Bottas, and Zhou Guanyu were all in danger; however, Zhou, Bottas, and Sargeant all made progress to get out of it, dropping Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri’s two McLarens into the elimination zone.

The two Alfa Romeos dropped back into the bottom five as a result of Norris and Tsunoda’s advancements. Bottas’ elimination was sealed by his penultimate lap improvement in time but not position. Zhou, another member of his team, also made an unsuccessful attempt to get out of the drop zone.

Sargeant was the last driver with a chance to guarantee safe passage out of the opening session, with McLaren’s Piastri disappointing the home crowd by missing out on a Q2 spot by only 0.022s. With his final attempt, he was unable to keep up with the pace of his teammate, and in 18th place, he was the last driver eliminated from the first phase.

2023 F1 AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX – QUALIFYING RESULTS
POS.DRIVERNAT.TEAMQ1Q2Q3
1Max VerstappenNEDOracle Red Bull Racing1m17.384s1m17.056s1m16.732s
2George RussellGBRMercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team1m17.654s1m17.513s1m16.968s
3Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team1m17.689s1m17.551s1m17.104s
4Fernando AlonsoESPAston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team1m17.832s1m17.263s1m17.139s
5Carlos SainzESPScuderia Ferrari1m17.928s1m17.349s1m17.270s
6Lance StrollCANAston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team1m17.873s1m17.616s1m17.308s
7Charles LeclercMONScuderia Ferrari1m18.218s1m17.390s1m17.369s
8Alex AlbonTHAWilliams Racing1m17.962s1m17.761s1m17.609s
9Pierre GaslyFRABWT Alpine F1 Team1m18.312s1m17.574s1m17.675s
10Nico HulkenbergGERMoneyGram Haas F1 Team1m18.029s1m17.412s1m17.735s
11Esteban OconFRABWT Alpine F1 Team1m17.770s1m17.768s 
12Yuki TsunodaJPNScuderia AlphaTauri 1m18.471s1m18.099s 
13Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren F1 Team1m18.243s1m18.119s 
14Kevin MagnussenDENMoneyGram Haas F1 Team1m18.159s1m18.129s 
15Nyck de VriesNEDScuderia AlphaTauri1m18.450s1m18.335s 
16Oscar PiastriAUSMcLaren F1 Team1m18.517s  
17Zhou GuanyuCHNAlfa Romeo F1 Team Stake1m18.540s  
18Logan SargeantUSAWilliams Racing1m18.557s  
19Valtteri BottasFINAlfa Romeo F1 Team Stake1m18.714s  
20Sergio PerezMEXOracle Bull RacingNo Time Set

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