Max also from Australia. Verstappen you take pole a Melbourne: for the Dutchman the 22nd start of his career at the post, the second of the year after the Bahrainthe third in a row for one Red Bull who is at the third pole in a row and knows no boundaries, neither geographical nor technical. At least in his hands: because the companion, Sergio Perez, who had made pole in Jeddah and then won, ends his troubled weekend in the gravel already in the first round of a qualifying session. Lots of problems for Checo these days: in the last free practice tormented by the rain, problems with the hydraulics and many blockages under braking. Something doesn’t work on his blue, which gets stuck in the sand in turn 3, perhaps driven by too much haste in trying the lap, and stays there causing a red flag. The Mexican will start last.
The Mercedes behind Verstappen
So behind the two world champion, who sets a lap of 1’16”732, lowering his pole time at Albert Park by a good second and also avoiding knocking down a bird flying over the track, here are the unexpected Mercedes: George Russell 2° a 2 decimi, Lewis Hamilton 3rd to 3 abundant. Black cars are growing all right, waiting to be completely overhauled for Imola. They manage to beat even the magnificent Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonsowhich places 4th at 4 tenths.
Ferrari, Sainz does better than Leclerc
The first Ferrari is that of Carlos Sainz: the Spaniard 5th by more than 5 tenths, on the edge with the other green of Lance Stroll (6th), but better than the other red of Charles Leclerc. There may be a misunderstanding between the two when leaving the pits: Sainz is in front, but he does one more warm-up lap, the Monegasque finds him in front of him and this annoys him a bit. Beyond this, Ferrari still has a lot to do. Leclerc, who took pole and then won in Melbourne last year in a car he described as ‘a beast’, is only 7th by 6 tenths. On a circuit where overtaking is difficult, it will be an uphill race for him and for Maranello, which in any case seems to have found something to improve the car, working on the ground clearance with a revised surface. Charles: “We were afraid it would rain, however we missed him too much to be in front. We have to understand what happened with Carlos, we’ll talk about it. I have a car perhaps more for racing, but that doesn’t justify what I should have done Better”. Vasseur: “Today’s qualifying was extremely tight and unfortunately things didn’t go the right way for us. In Q3 we were on the limit with time towards the end of the session and so we avoided doing the preparation lap with Charles (Leclerc, ed), while Carlos (Sainz, ed) was unable to put together a lap, losing a couple of tenths in turn 1, without which he could have been second or third. However, the points are awarded tomorrow and after Gedda we worked for obtain a constant and solid performance from the SF-23 in terms of race pace. We will focus above all on ourselves and prepare the race in the best way to recover: overtaking is not easy on this track, but we know it can be an unpredictable race.” .
The charge of Verstappen
Best of all, always Max: “Throughout the weekend it was difficult to get the tires in the right window to be able to push straight away. But in Q3 everything worked well. I’m very happy with the lap and to be on pole. I can’t wait whether it’s tomorrow, I hope the car will be strong in the race. It will be essential to keep the tires alive and manage them well. Australia? I’ve had a podium in the past, but I want to get on a different step.”
Russell and a growing Mercedes
The first one who tries to annoy him will be Russell. The Englishman drives beyond the limits of an improved car in any case and is a tough nut to crack in the race: “We didn’t expect the front row. We’re working hard. The car seemed alive, I did a good lap. On the one hand I’m happy, on the “I’m almost sorry I didn’t get pole. The car was fantastic, this shows that we still have a lot of potential. Even if it will be tough to keep up with Max.”
Hamilton: “Great result”
With such a big smile, here is Hamilton, who made his F1 debut in Melbourne in 2007: “I’m delighted. Unexpected result, I’m proud of the team. George did a fantastic job, being able to get on the front row is a It’s a dream for us. We’ve worked so hard to get back in front and being so close to Red Bull is incredible. I hope we can give them a hard time tomorrow and I hope the weather is clear. Was I on pole after the first run? Yes. The second lap wasn’t as good as the first. But I’m not disappointed. I’m grateful for this position. The goal? To finish first. I hope it’s a day like in 2007, the first corner there was fantastic. I hope to repeat myself.” . He passed Alonso on the outside then finished 3rd. Fernando: “Did he? I don’t remember. I hope the Mercedes start well and give Max a hard time.” To the alien.