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Charles Leclerc

Leclerc storms to pole in dramatic Australian GP qualifying

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc has won a dramatic qualifying battle with Red Bull's Max Verstappen, claiming pole position for the Australian Grand Prix.

Leclerc Australia
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To news overview © Ferrari / Twitter

Charles Leclerc has taken pole position for the Australian Grand Prix, his second of the 2022 season.

Qualifying proved dramatic throughout all three sessions, with Ferrari driver Leclerc coming alive in the final minutes of Q3 after a red flag interrupted proceedings with seven minutes remaining.

Alpine's Fernando Alonso brought out the red flags as he crashed in the final sector of his first flying lap. Having gone fastest of all at the time in the second sector, Alonso went wide at Turn 11 and hit the barriers to rip his front-left wheel off.

He radioed in to report that he had lost hydraulics on his A522, meaning he wasn't able to downshift enough gears for the corner.

The resulting red flag triggered just before Carlos Sainz crossed the line, meaning he had no flying lap on the board with the first half of the session elapsed – in stark contrast to the fortunes of teammate Leclerc as the Monegasque crossed the line to put in a 1:18.239 to snatch provisional pole.

When the session resumed, the Red Bull drivers tried to topple Leclerc's time. Sergio Perez crossed the line first, falling short by just 0.001 seconds. Max Verstappen was up next, and he snatched away provisional pole with a 1:18.154 to relegate Leclerc.

But Leclerc put together a tremendous final flyer to go 0.286 seconds clear of Verstappen as he clocked a 1:17.868.

With Leclerc and Verstappen on the front row, Perez claimed third. However, he has been summoned before the stewards for an alleged yellow flag infraction during Q2.

Lando Norris took fourth for McLaren, a much-improved performance for the MCL36, with the British driver beating both Mercedes drivers as Lewis Hamilton and George Russell took fifth and sixth respectively.

Daniel Ricciardo was seventh in the second McLaren, ahead of Alpine's Esteban Ocon in eighth. Having lost his first run due to the red flag, Sainz only managed the ninth fastest time with his final flying lap, while Alonso was classified 10th after his crash.

Result Qualification - Australian

Pos. Driver Team Time
Results are being loaded...

Q2

Perez set the fastest time of Q2, putting in a 1:18.340 as he went a tenth clear of Sainz at the head of the field.

Leclerc and Verstappen were third and fourth, with the top four covered by just under three-tenths of a second.

While Perez led the way, he caught the attention of the stewards for allegedly failing to slow sufficiently for yellow flags during an incident at Turn 11.

Russell had put a wheel on the grass entering the corner, taking to the escape area to save the mistake. It was during the subsequent yellow flags that Perez is alleged to have failed to slow sufficiently, although this was not during his ultimate fastest lap.

With both Mercedes and McLaren drivers making up the sixth to ninth places, they were all covered within the same tenth of a second.

Eliminated were AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly in 11th, with Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas' run of 103 consecutive Q3 appearances coming to an end as he was knocked out in 12th.

Yuki Tsunoda was 13th in the second AlphaTauri, Zhou Guanyu 14th for Alfa Romeo, and Mick Schumacher outqualifying his Haas teammate as he made it into 15th.

Q1

The Red Bull drivers led the way in the first part of qualifying, with Verstappen setting a 1:18.580 to go quarter of a second clear of Perez and Leclerc.

The session was red-flagged with just two minutes remaining, after a clash between Williams' Nicholas Latifi and Aston Martin's Lance Stroll.

Stroll had just joined the circuit, with Aston Martin managing to fix his AMR22 after his FP3 crash, and was gearing up for a flying lap when he encountered Latifi.

The Williams driver moved aside to allow Stroll through but, with Stroll not on a flying lap, Latifi accelerated again to overtake his fellow Canadian by pulling to the right-hand side of the track heading towards Turn 6.

Stroll appeared to be trying to move aside to allow other cars to pass, but turned into the path of the accelerating Latifi. The front-right wheel of the Aston Martin clashed with the rear-left of the Williams, triggering a bigger accident for Latifi.

After a brief red flag stoppage, the session resumed with two minutes remaining and this meant a mad dash from cars coming out of the pits in order to get another lap in. This dash included Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel, with his car repaired following his FP3 crash.

Despite his best efforts, Vettel was knocked out in 18th, ahead of Latifi in 19th and Stroll in 20th.

The other two drivers knocked out in Q1 were Williams' Alex Albon in 16th, who also stopped on track after the session with an apparent technical issue, and Haas' Kevin Magnussen down in 17th.

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