Sunday, October 2, 2022

Charles Leclerc takes pole ahead of Max Verstappen in Australia

Charles Leclerc takes pole position at the Australian Grand Prix to continue Ferrari’s fine start to the new season after two red flags in qualifying in Melbourne… as Max Verstappen takes second and Lewis Hamilton secures fifth place on the grid

  • Charles Leclerc will begin Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix on pole in Melbourne after a stellar flying lap
  • The Ferrari driver ousted Max Verstappen by two tenths in Q3 on Saturday, to gain the upper hand
  • Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton settled for fifth while Lando Norris took P4 on a frantic day of qualifying
  • Fernando Alonso crashed out in Q3, while Nicholas Latifi and Lance Stroll were involved in a heavy collision

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Lewis Hamilton will start the Australian Grand Prix from fifth on the grid – with pole going to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, nearly a second ahead of the Briton.

In an eventful qualifying session, which was twice red-flagged, drivers had to change to darker visors as the lowering sun made visibility nearly impossible in Melbourne’s Albert Park.

With the light fading, Red Bull’s world champion Max Verstappen was second quickest and his team-mate Sergio Perez third.

Charles Leclerc has taken pole ahead of the Australian Grand Prix in a big boost in his battle with Max Verstappen

The Ferrari man clocked in two tenths quicker than the reigning world champion to start on pole at Albert Park

The Ferrari man clocked in two tenths quicker than the reigning world champion to start on pole at Albert Park

A frustrated Verstappen said that Red Bull have been 'all over the place' throughout their weekend Down Under

A frustrated Verstappen said that Red Bull have been ‘all over the place’ throughout their weekend Down Under

Hamilton was ahead of his Mercedes team-mate George Russell, who qualified sixth for the 58-lap race on the relay and reshaped circuit.

Hamilton’s performance was at least an improvement on his 16th place a fortnight before in Jeddah, though his quest for an eighth world title has yet to launch itself ahead of the third race of the 23-round season and his car bounced along the track.

Lando Norris was an unexpected fourth best for McLaren.

Nicholas Latifi and Lance Stroll knocked themselves out in a clumsy collision in Q1 that brought the first temporary halt to proceedings. Neither was aware of what the other was doing and they met in the middle of the road. Latifi’s Williams was sent into the wall before the debris was cleared.

Elsewhere, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton had to settle for fifth, ending his six-year run of poles in Melbourne

Elsewhere, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton had to settle for fifth, ending his six-year run of poles in Melbourne

Qualifying was hit with two red flags after crashes involving Nicholas Latifi (above), Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll

Qualifying was hit with two red flags after crashes involving Nicholas Latifi (above), Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll

STARTING GRID FOR SUNDAY’S RACE IN MELBOURNE

1. Leclerc

2. Verstappen

3. Perez

4. Norris

5.Hamilton

6.Russell

7.Ricciardo

8. Ocon

9. Sainz

10. Alonso

Aston Martin’s Stroll screamed: ‘F***ing Latifi. He just f***ing hit me, man.’

Latifi said: ‘I don’t understand what he was doing. He wasn’t looking in his mirrors. The fucking car is destroyed.’

The session resumed after a 15-minute hiatus.

Fernando Alonso later pranged at Turn 11, bringing the second stop with seven minutes of Q3 remaining.

The Spaniard, who had just set the fastest middle sector time, blamed a hydraulic failure that robbed him of the use of his gears. The final action of the late afternoon played out after a 13-minute break.

Fernando Alonso later pranged at Turn 11, bringing the second stop with seven minutes of Q3 in Melbourne remaining

Fernando Alonso later pranged at Turn 11, bringing the second stop with seven minutes of Q3 in Melbourne remaining

Re-live Sportsmail’s live coverage of qualifying in Melbourne, brought to you by OLLIE LEWIS.

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