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Max Verstappen

Verstappen powers to Australian GP pole as Perez hits disaster

Max Verstappen fended off the renewed threat from Mercedes and Aston Martin to take Pole Position for Red Bull at the Albert Park Circuit, whilst teammate Sergio Perez starts last.

Verstappen Australia
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen has taken his first Australian GP Pole Position ahead of the George Russell and Lewis Hamilton, with teammate Sergio Perez crashing out of Formula 1 qualifying.

Red Bull's championship leader appeared to have an increased threat from Mercedes and Aston Martin, but a last-minute lap of 1:16.732 gave the Dutchman a two tenth advantage.

In a qualifying session which saw drivers completing multiple laps on the same tyres due to the low wear, the competitors completed as many as 29 laps in a busy qualifying hour.

Behind the surprise top three appearances for Mercedes, Fernando Alonso fell short of challenging for a first Pole Position of the season, finishing in P4 ahead of Ferrari's Carlos Sainz.

The second Aston Martin of Lance Stroll took P6, ahead of Charles Leclerc, who was over six tenths of a second off the pace.

Alex Albon completed an impressive day by securing his first Q3 appearance of the season. The Williams driver finished a remarkable P8, setting the fastest middle sector of Q3, and finishing ahead of Alpine's Pierre Gasly.

Nico Hulkenberg once again led the qualifying charge for the Haas team and took the tenth-fastest time of the day.

McLaren struggle for pace once again

Alpine's Esteban Ocon was 0.007s away from making it a double-Q3 day for the team, but the Frenchman failed to repeat the impressive potential seen from free practice three earlier in the day.

The two AlphaTauri drivers had progressed to the second part of qualifying for the first time this season, but neither could make an unlikely leap into Q3.

Yuki Tsunoda came closest with a P12 result, with teammate Nyck de Vries several tenths of a second behind in P15.

Lando Norris was the highest-placed McLaren, but the Briton struggled in the session. He had an off-track moment at Turn 4 early on in the session, and ran the car close to the edge of the track on numerous occasions as he tried to extract performance from the MCL36.

He finished in P13, ahead of Haas' Kevin Magnunssen, who was unable to keep up with Hulkenberg's qualifying performance.

Perez's Saturday disaster continues

With several drivers from the backmarker teams hitting the track straight away in Q1, the frontrunners felt content enough with the rain forecast to wait for the track to rubber in.

However, the handling issues that plagued Perez in the final free practice session seemed to continue into qualifying.

On only his first flying lap of the day, the Mexican locked up on entry into Turn 4 and ran wide into the gravel trap, becoming beached and triggering the red flags.

After the session restarted, home favourite Oscar Piastri was the driver to narrowly miss out on the Q2 cut, with the McLaren driver eliminated by just 0.046 of a second.

Zhou Guanyu was the fastest of a double-Alfa Romeo knockout, finishing P17 with teammate Valtteri Bottas down in P19.

Logan Sargeant was the only other driver to have a proper off-track moment. The American driver spun on the exit of the penultimate corner before recovering to the pit lane. However, the Williams driver was unable to replicate teammate Albon's impressive pace, and finished P18.

F1 2023 Australian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier


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