F1: Leclerc storms to Australian GP pole

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took the Australian Grand Prix pole position with a blistering lap of 1m17.868s around Albert Park – demoting his championship rival Max Verstappen to second on the grid for Sunday’s race and his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez a provisional third.

Verstappen topped Q1 and Red Bull teammate Perez led Q2 – the Mexican driver under investigation for not slowing for a caution in Q1 – but it was Leclerc who put in a storming lap to beat Verstappen by 0.286s in Q3.

Max Verstappen could only manage 2nd best

Perez finished third, 0.372s back, while Lando Norris was P4 for McLaren – his teammate and hometown hero Daniel Ricciardo in seventh.

In between the McLarens was the resurging Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton in P5 and George Russell in P6.

Esteban Ocon was 8th for Alpine while Carlos Sainz Jr. was a disappointing P9 in the 2nd Ferrari, a whopping 1.540s slower than his teammate in Q3.

Sainz was on course for a top four time, but made a mistake on his only flying lap and had to settle for ninth place with a 1m19.408s time. If it hadn’t been for the red flags, the Spaniard would have likely started from somewhere on the front two rows.

Fernando Alonso crashed out in Q3, a suspected hydraulics issue the cause, and lines up P10 for Alpine.

Select Quotes


Charles Leclerc
I’m happy with my result today. This circuit is really tricky and I’ve always struggled here in the past. It may not have seemed like it this weekend because we’ve been quite fast, but I’ve done a lot of work to optimize my performance. The team did a great job. We stayed calm at all times, despite red flags, yellow flags and traffic. The biggest limitation for me was the sun. It was low and at an inconvenient angle, and it was almost impossible to see where I was in Q2 and most of Q3. I took a lot of risks and I’m glad that I managed to put together such a good lap in the end. It doesn’t look too bad in terms of race pace. It’s very close with our competitors, so it will be a difficult but exciting race tomorrow.

Carlos Sainz Jr.
We had good pace today but my Q3 went completely wrong. We got the red flag right before the finish line of the first flying lap and on my second one, I was about to go out, but there was a delay in firing up my car. We finally got going but I didn’t have time to do the preparation lap, which meant the tires were far from ready for the push lap, sliding everywhere. Tomorrow I’ll obviously try to recover as much as possible, but without the fourth DRS zone the circuit hasn’t changed that much from the old one, and it will be tricky to overtake. Anyway, tomorrow is another day, and we’ll try to come back.

Laurent Mekies, Racing Director
It’s been a busy weekend so far and we have been ahead of our rivals in some sessions and behind them in others. We knew there would be a lot of work to do in qualifying and that tire management would be tough on this track which, thanks to the modifications to the layout, is effectively a new track, throwing up very different challenges to those in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. The F1-75 has shown itself to be competitive here too, and that’s down to all the hard work back in Maranello. Today in qualifying, we had to look at the smallest detail to find ways to continuously improve. In the end, Charles put together an amazing lap to take a great pole – not the first time we’ve seen him do that. It was a shame for Carlos, who is also very quick this weekend. First of all, he missed out on setting a time by just a few seconds because of the red flags and then on his final run, his performance was compromised when it unexpectedly took longer than usual to fire up the engine, which meant he left the garage a little bit late. There was no time for a preparation lap and inevitably, this had a not inconsiderable impact on his lap time. Tomorrow, every single lap of the Grand Prix will be very closely contested, so we still have a lot of work to do tonight to ensure we get the very best result we can.

Red Bull

Max Verstappen
“The weekend so far has been a bit of a struggle, there is a gap between Charles and I, but second of course is not bad, and I think there is a lot more potential in the car than we are showing at the moment. I didn’t really feel 100% in the car today, so we tried to change a few things in the set-up, but it didn’t quite make the improvements we hoped for, and we’ll do the best we can tomorrow. I think we have a good race car and in race conditions everything stabilizes a bit, so it is more consistent. Let’s hope we can have a good race tomorrow.”

Sergio Perez
“I think qualifying was going well, Q2 especially and then there were red flags on a couple of occasions which meant we didn’t get to experiment with the tires, it is always hard with strategy when you get red flags. We went for three laps and carried that fuel just to find out at the end that the double push didn’t work any better than just setting one lap. It wasn’t the right thing to do and that costs us a couple of tenths, but Charles put in a tremendous lap, he put everything together and I didn’t. Hopefully, tomorrow in the race we can be a lot closer, make it hard for them, have a strong race and enjoy it. I like this car, we are all learning every time we drive these new cars and tomorrow in the race I want to make a big step.”

#11 Red Bull of Sergio Perez throws up sparks

Christian Horner
“That was a great performance by both our drivers. At certain points they both looked like they may be able to steal pole, but Charles put in a great lap and it was just out of reach for us, but we’ll come back and try to beat them tomorrow. Max’s lock up cost him about three-tenths and Checo had a small d-rate on his first lap and carried an extra tenth of fuel as well, because he wanted to do three laps, but we are still on the front row and P3, so we’ll take that. I still think under higher fuel we will be in better shape, and with these DRS zones it could be a really interesting race.”


Lewis Hamilton
Compared to yesterday and to the last race, today was a good day for me. I’m really grateful for the work at the factory in turning the car around from yesterday and I almost got P4 which would have been cool but we’ll be fighting for that position tomorrow. I’d say this era of car is the worst for porpoising that I’ve ever experienced. For people watching at home, if the ride height is going high/low, high/low, when you turn in you never know which position you’ll catch it in and the car could oversteer or understeer depending where you catch it, so driving it is a real challenge – it’s like a rattlesnake! We need to find the right balance in ride height to give us performance while controlling the bouncing tomorrow. George and I tried slightly different things on our cars today so hopefully that’s good learning for the team to take into the race.

#44 Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton. LAT Images for Mercedes F1

George Russell
We’re still learning, still trying to understand the car, it was bouncing around a lot today which was really limiting into the fast corners which was where I was losing all my time. I’ve not been overly comfortable in the car this weekend, so I was pretty happy qualifying where we did – I think we’d have taken P5 and P6 before the session. There’s no reason why we can’t finish ahead of the McLaren tomorrow, we have to try and also keep Sainz and Alonso behind, although they both looked very quick today. Tomorrow will be tricky but I think we’ve found the best compromise window for the limitations we have and it will be a long race so let’s see what we can do.

George Russell 2022 Australian Grand Prix – LAT Images for Mercedes F1

Toto Wolff
That was a good result for us today – in fact, we probably slightly over-performed with P5 and P6, because I think Alonso would have been ahead of us without his crash. But when you consider the challenges we are facing at the moment, the team worked very well to extract everything from the car after two difficult practice sessions yesterday. The drivers maximized their opportunities with the car that’s under them right now, and it’s great to see the positive approach they are bringing to each session as we continue learning. Tomorrow’s race will be a different challenge again: protecting the tires will be important, and nobody has had the opportunity to gather much data after the red flag yesterday in FP2. So it will be another trip into the unknown – and hopefully, we have made the right choices to deliver our performance across the full race distance.

Andrew Shovlin
We found a bit of pace overnight with the changes and were able to get the tires in a better temperature region today, but there wasn’t much left in the car. The gaps to Ferrari and Red Bull are still worryingly large, but not a surprise to us – we’ve known since Bahrain that we have a mountain to climb this year and the team is getting stuck into that challenge. We’ve focused on our race pace this weekend so hopefully we have good degradation but our hopes are quite realistic, we’re wanting to be there to capitalize on any mistakes or issues for Red Bull and Ferrari, but we know we won’t be able to stay on the back of them.


Pierre Gasly
“It’s always disappointing to miss out on Q3, but I think this weekend has been tough for us. We saw that McLaren and Alpine have made a step forward, we just didn’t have the pace to do much better. We know what we need to work on, and we’ve planned some upgrades in the coming races, but to miss Q3 by a tenth of a second is always painful. We’ve managed to improve on some areas, but some issues just remained throughout the weekend, so it’s a bigger picture we need to look at. I think we did what we could, I don’t think Q3 was on the cards today. It’s going to be a long race, there could be some mistakes made by others, so I need to keep focussed and make sure to see the checkered flag.”

Yuki Tsunoda
It was hard, but there was potential to be in the top 10. Between Q1 and Q2 I lost performance from the car, and it just felt different, the rear was gone, and I struggled to adapt to it. I went off track in one of my runs and impeded Pierre, which I apologize for. We have to see what happened, hopefully we can put everything together and score points in the race.”

Jody Egginton (Technical Director)
“After a reasonable Friday, where both cars were not too far away from the pace, we made some changes overnight and had a decent FP3 with both drivers being pretty competitive. There was some fine-tuning made ahead of Qualifying, and although the Qualifying sessions went OK, we came up slightly short and couldn’t make it to Q3. The margins are small, but we just were not able to sneak in, which was disappointing. We will go away and focus on the developments coming through and re-target getting the car back into Q3 from race four onwards. Now our attention turns to the race and looking at what strategy options we have available tomorrow. Overtaking isn’t easy here, but we’ll see what we can do to score points like in previous races. I think we can finish in the top 10, it’s just a case of moving the cars forward as early as possible in the race and see if we can consolidate from there.”

Aston Martin

Sebastian Vettel
“Today is about the team: the boys and girls did an amazing job to get both cars out on track for qualifying. They did so well to get Lance’s car ready, and it was great to see the team spirit when both sides of the garage came together to help finish getting my car ready. Just getting out to set a lap was a huge achievement. P18 may not look great on paper, but today it was the result of a little bit of magic. Things are not easy at the moment, but we know that the car has more potential and we are working very hard as a team to make progress. I have not had much running this weekend, so hopefully we can have a clean race tomorrow and learn more about the car.”

Lance Stroll
“It was a messy day, unfortunately. More than anything, I want to say thank you to the team for their incredible hard work today. It was not easy to get the car ready for qualifying, but they managed it. It was a shame to have such an awkward incident with Nicholas [Latifi] in Q1, though. It happened at a narrow point of the track and I was following the curve of it to the right. As I went to the inside, he accelerated at the last second and made contact. It has been a day to forget, so we will regroup and come back tomorrow and try to take any opportunities that come our way in the race.”

Mike Krack, Team Principal
“This weekend is not going well for us so far – that much is obvious – but sometimes racing is like that. So what I want to do today is pay tribute to both garage crews, who were faced with the monumental task of getting two damaged cars ready for qualifying in record time. And they did just that. Mechanics are Formula One’s unsung heroes. Well done, guys.”

Provisional Qualifying Results

1 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:18.881 1:18.606 1:17.868 0.000
2 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing RBPT 1:18.580 1:18.611 1:18.154 0.286
3 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing RBPT 1:18.834 1:18.340 1:18.240 0.372
4 4 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 1:19.280 1:19.066 1:18.703 0.835
5 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:19.401 1:19.106 1:18.825 0.957
6 63 George Russell Mercedes 1:19.405 1:19.076 1:18.933 1.065
7 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes 1:19.665 1:19.130 1:19.032 1.164
8 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 1:19.605 1:19.136 1:19.061 1.193
9 55 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:18.983 1:18.469 1:19.408 1.540
10 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault 1:19.192 1:18.815 DNF
11 10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri RBPT 1:19.580 1:19.226 1.358
12 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1:19.251 1:19.410 1.542
13 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri RBPT 1:19.742 1:19.424 1.556
14 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1:19.910 1:20.155 2.287
15 47 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari 1:20.104 1:20.465 2.597
16 23 Alexander Albon Williams Mercedes 1:20.135 2.386
17 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:20.254 3.281
18 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes 1:21.149 3.504
19 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes 1:21.372 2.267
NC 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes No Time


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