Charles Leclerc took a dramatic pole position at the Australian Grand Prix, his second pole of the season
Leclerc leads the drivers’ standings after two races, with victory at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix followed by a second-place finish behind reigning world champion Max Verstappen in Saudi Arabia and the Ferrari driver is now well positioned to extend that advantage at Melbourne’s Albert Park street circuit.
Verstappen took second place in qualifying behind his rival, with the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez in third, Lando Norris an impressive fourth in the McLaren and Lewis Hamilton in fifth – out-qualifying his Mercedes teammate George Russell. The second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz is down in ninth.
There were multiple crashes during qualifying with Nicholas Latifi and Lance Stroll coming together to cause a red flag in Q1 and Fernando Alonso’s Alpine heading into the barrier, which led to another stoppage and delay in Q3.
Follow all the latest reaction from qualifying below:
Verstappen says he has struggled with Red Bull ‘balance’ all year
Max Verstappen will start tomorrow’s race in second place, but says he has been struggling with the balance of his Red Bull car in all three race weekends so far this season.
The Dutchman beat team-mate Sergio Perez but will start behind Charles Leclerc in Melbourne.
“I would have hoped to start first but we have to accept where we finished,” Verstappen told Sky Sports F1. “It’s been a bit tricky for me, all over the place, and I’ve never found a stable grip at the front or rear. But that’s been the case for the whole year, I’ve never really found a balance where I can fully attack all the corners, especially in qualifying. It’s been tough, We have a lot more potential in the car than we are showing and that’s a shame.
“I like a car that is pointy in the front and if it’s sliding too much that’s not good. I think in the race the car should stabilize a bit and become easier to drive. You don’t have to search for the one lap performance where we can’t find the balance, and the long runs seemed good, so hopefully we can have a good battle again.”
Dan Austin9 April 2022 09:22
Leclerc says making driving style more ‘precise’ helped earn Australian GP pole
Charles Leclerc says he has worked hard to tweak his driving style in order to secure pole for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.
The Monegasque beat both Red Bull drivers to pole position with his final lap of the session and says becomign more ‘precise’ has been key.
“The car felt very good,” he told Sky Sports F1. “Overall I’m very happy because I’ve always struggled here in the past and maybe you can’t see from outside because we look fast on track, but I’ve struggled this weekend with a lot of mistakes and being inconsistent. I’ve really worked on that and tried to put a good lap together, and I did it in Q3. For me personally [the difficulty of the Albert Park circuit] is the nature of the corners, where the turning phase is very sharp and fast, and I struggle with my driving style in those corners to be very precise. So I’ve been working hard on that and put it together, so it felt good.”
Dan Austin9 April 2022 09:12
Norris looking forward to racing Mercedes in Australia
Lando Norris put in an excellent performance in qualifying to put his McLaren on the second row of the grid in Melbourne.
The team has struggled at the opening two rounds of the season, but Norris has a strong platform to deliver solid points in tomorrow’s race, and the 22-year-old is looking forward to the prospect of racing Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, who will start fifth and sixth.
“It’s nice to be this far up!,” Norris told Sky Sports F1. “We made some small steps forward as a team but realistically it’s that the car is much faster on this track than others. [The three DRS zones] should be good for good racing. It’s been a while, really since F2 since [Russell and I] had our last good battle at Monza. I think we can have some good racing tomorrow, and hopefully we can race [both Mercedes] more often. But the race pace from the Mercs is often strong, stronger than ours, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
Dan Austin9 April 2022 09:07
Horner still ‘happy’ with second and third for Red Bull
Red Bull may not have been able to snatch pole position away from Ferrari in Q3, but team principal Christian Horner is still pleased with the team’s starting position in Australia.
With Carlos Sainz starting down in ninth on Sunday morning, the Red Bulls will have a strategic advantage against the sole Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, and Horner believes they can still potentially take a win.
“I’m still pretty happy with that, second and third on the grid,” Horner told Sky Sports F1. “For Max that lock up cost him about three tenths which would have put him closer to Charles. It was great lap by him but we’re still on the front row.
“It looks like [the Ferarris] will have a bit of a headache with all that bouncing,” Horner added. “What we don’t know, because the long runs weren’t long enough, is whether that is going to have an effect on degradation. But we’re very confident we can race them and see what happens.”
Dan Austin9 April 2022 09:02
Alonso frustrated after crash costs him ‘best weekend in years’
Fernando Alonso is clearly dejected in the media pen after a hydraulics issue caused the crash which cost him a potential shot at pole position in Australia.
The Spaniard had set the fastest middle sector of anybody in Q3 but he lost control of the gears into Turn 11 and hit the barriers and skipping across the gravel trap.
“I think it’s something hydraulic because I could not change gear and the steering became very heavy, so we seemed to lose the power steering,” he told Sky Sports F1. “I don’t know if we could fight for pole but for sure top three. We had two sets of new tires because we saved them. It is so frustrating. I don’t know and honestly right now I don’t care, I was doing my best weekend in years, so now whatever it is we will take it.”
Dan Austin9 April 2022 08:54
Sainz will be ‘angry’ until going to bed tonight
Carlos Sainz has suffered dreadful luck during today’s qualifying session, and he is furious in his press interview afterwards. The Spaniard says an issue with starting his Ferrari in the garage cost him a shot at pole position, and he will now start tomorrow’s race in ninth place.
“It was much better, a normal lap,” Sainz said about the lap he was on shortly before the red flag was brought out after Fernando Alonso’s crash. With one chance remaining, Sainz ran wide on his flying lap, but blamed a technical error in the Ferrari garage for his lowly laptime.
“We couldn’t start the car and went out three minutes later than we wanted,” Sainz explained. “I didn’t have the time to prepare the lap, I had to do it with freezing tires. It was unlucky and everything went wrong because I was in the fight for pole. He knows I’m angry because we shouldn’t have these problems with the starter. It was just a disaster. Everything that could go wrong went wrong. I’m not going to be happy because somebody tells me to. A good night’s sleep and go again tomorrow, but until I go to sleep I will be angry.”
Dan Austin9 April 2022 08:51
Perez wants fans to enjoy ‘nice race’ at Melbourne
Sergio Perez looked like the fastest man on track for the majority of that qualifying session, but will have to make do with a third-place start on the grid for tomorrow’s race after falling behind team-mate Max Verstappen and pole-sitter Charles Leclerc come the checkered flag.
The Red Bull man’s priority is for fans to enjoy the first race to place at Albert Park since 2019, due to Covid-19 protocols.
“Things were going good,” the Mexican explained. “It’s always hard to keep the momentum going with all the red flags. P3 is satisfying to start tomorrow. We have got a nice breed ahead of us and first of all I hope we make a lot of Aussies happy tomorrow. Full grandstands so let’s give them a nice race tomorrow.”
Dan Austin09 April 2022 08:46
Verstappen bemoans “all over the place” weekend in Australia so far
Mav Verstappen didn’t seem to have the same pace as team-mate Sergio Perez for the majority of this morning’s qualifying session, but did managed to beat him to second on the grid for tomorrow’s race. The world champion, though, isn’t pleased with his Red Bull car’s balance.
“I didn’t really feel good in the car this weekend so far,” the Dutchman explained. “There hasn’t been a lap I’ve felt fully comfortable or that great to go to the limit. Probably in race pace everything stabilizes a bit but this weekend so far has been all over the place. I’m happy to be second goal as a team we want more.”
Dan Austin9 April 2022 08:44
Leclerc celebrates pole position at track where he has ‘struggled’ before
Charles Leclerc has taken the eleventh pole position of his career in Melbourne this morning, and says his F1075 Ferrari because “feels great” around the Albert Park circuit.
“It felt good!”, he told Sky Sports F1. “Even more because it’s a track I’ve always struggled in the past. We worked really hard, it was a bit messy in practice with not everything coming together but I managed it in Q3. It feels great and very happy to start on pole tomorrow. The car is nice to drive but the Red Bulls were very quick during the long fuel run, so tomorrow we just need to do a good start and then hopefully keep that first position.”
Dan Austin9 April 2022 08:41
Hamilton beats Russell for Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton improved with his final time right at the end of the sessions, and will start tomorrow’s race in Melbourne from fifth on the grid.
That’s one position ahead of team-mate George Russell, and constitutes a decent result for the Mercedes team. Lando Norris will be ahead of both in fourth.
Dan Austin09 April 2022 08:37