Australian F1 GP, Qualifying: Charles Leclerc beats Red Bull and takes pole position

Charles Leclerc took pole position for the Australian GP with a time of 1:17.868, beating Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez, who has yet to visit the commissaires’ college for allegedly not having slowed down during a yellow flag situation. .
Carlos Sainz didn’t manage to join this trio and between some bad luck in Q3 (the team had problems with the F1-75’s engine and the car took three minutes to go to the track, so the Spaniard couldn’t warm up well the tires), took ninth place on the starting grid. Lando Norris was the driver who gained the most from this, as he reached fourth place.
Charles Leclerc won Ferrari’s first pole position in Australia in 15 years.
The Scuderia’s last pole at the Australian GP had been won by Kimi Raikkonen in 2007. Interestingly, Charles Leclerc was also called up by the stewards for driving unnecessarily slowly in qualifying.
The Ferrari driver edged out rival Max Verstappen by 0.286 seconds in a Melbourne session that ended half an hour later than expected due to two red flags.
One of them, already in Q3, due to the slip by Fernando Alonso, who was being very fast, probably on his way to do a time on the front row of the grid, but left the track, complaining after a hydraulic problem. That leaves him in 10th place on the grid.
The Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez were right behind Leclerc, but Carlos Sainz starts from ninth, which is bad for Ferrari, after the bad luck he had, which we have already mentioned.
Lando Norris was fourth and showed a better McLaren, ending the session ahead of the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, who remain basically in the same position in relative terms as when they started the year in Bahrain.
Be that as it may, McLaren has improved a lot and Mercedes is stepping up.
Daniel Ricciardo, in the other McLaren, is seventh, alongside Esteban Ocon’s Alpine.
For tomorrow’s race, the Red Bulls can concentrate on putting pressure on Leclerc, because Sainz starts very far back and should take a long time to get there, if he can.
Let’s see what Norris does, he has two Mercedes behind. Probably this is going to be a very interesting fight in the race.

Q1 – Expensive weekend for Aston Martin
Charles Leclerc (Ferrari F1-75) was the first driver to set the fastest lap time with 1:19.391s. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari F1-75), after completing two starting laps, recorded a better time than his teammate, as did Sergio Perez (Red Bull RB18). However, on the second attempt, Leclerc returned to the top of the timesheets with a time of 1:18.881.
Nicholas Latifi (Williams FW44/Mercedes) had a small departure from the track, but the Canadian driver managed to hold the single seater to avoid spinning and Lando Norris (McLaren MCL36/Mercedes) managed to keep up with the Red Bull and Ferrari, finishing the first attempts in fourth place, behind Sainz and ahead of Perez.
The two Mercedes drivers just 6 minutes from the end of Q1 recorded a time, with George Russell (Mercedes F1 W13/Mercedes) ahead of Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes F1 W13/Mercedes), who struggled at turn 11 Both were far from the top times and even on the second attempt Hamilton improved and rode faster than Russell, however in 8th and 9th position respectively.
Max Verstappen (Red Bull RB18) and Sergio Pérez jumped to the top of the timesheets. The Dutchman posted a time of 1:18.580, with 3 fast laps completed on the same set of soft tyres. Pérez was 0.254s away from his teammate.
Nicholas Latifi and Lance Stroll (Aston Martin AMR22/Mercedes) starred in an incident that forced the suspension of the qualifying session with 2 minutes to go. Initially Stroll passed Latifi and appeared to be starting a fast lap, but he didn’t. A few meters ahead, the Williams driver wanted to start a fast lap himself and while Latifi tried to overtake Stroll, the Aston Martin driver closed the path, possibly without having seen the overtake attempt, and hit the Williams’ right rear wheel, causing him to crash into the wall. Nicholas Latifi was left with the car destroyed and Lance Stroll stopped a little further ahead, with damage to the Aston Martin.
With the misfortune of Lance Stroll, his teammate Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin AMR22/Mercedes), who still hadn’t been able to get out on the track, with the team of mechanics working hard to try to recover the car after the accident in practice. free 3, I had a little more time to try to register a fast lap in Q1.
The riders returned to the track with 2 minutes to go in Q1, with Sebastian Vettel even managing to join the mini peloton on the track (only the top seven did not leave), with much credit for the team’s mechanics.
Only Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri AT03/Red Bull) managed to improve the time previously recorded on the last outing on the track. Alexander Albon (Williams FW44/Mercedes) who will be penalized for the accident caused in the previous round, Kevin Magnussen (Haas VF-22/Ferrari), Sebastian Vettel, Nicholas Latifi and Lance Stroll were excluded.

Q2 – AlphaTauri and Alfa Romeo eliminated
The start of Q2 was delayed after Alexander Albon was forced to stop the Williams on the track a few meters from the pitlane entrance after the end of Q1.
Max Verstappen was the first driver to take to the track and recorded the best time on the first attempt, with a time of 1:18.611. Further back, in sector 3, George Russell went straight ahead through the exit at one of the turns, causing yellow flags. Race management warned that they would investigate Sergio Pérez after the race for possibly not having slowed down in this yellow flag situation.
Perhaps as a precaution due to the previous situation, Sergio Pérez tried another fast lap and managed to improve his time in such a way that he jumped to the front of the time table, with 1:18.340s.
Fernando Alonso managed a good lap, losing time only in sector 3, and reached third place on the timesheet, having been beaten only in the second attempt by Carlos Sainz and then by Charles Leclerc, who moved up to second place, ahead of Max Verstappen.
The most surprising thing, even for everything they had done in the two previous races, was the elimination of the two AlphaTauri drivers – Yuki Tsunoda went off the track in his last attempt – and the two Alfa Romeos at the end of Q2. At the bottom of the timesheet was Mick Schumacher. The two McLarens managed to move into Q3, their first appearance in the final qualifying round for Woking cars in 2022, but it was Fernando Alonso who moved into Q3 at the head of the second pack with fifth place.

Q3- Spanish bad luck
Max Verstappen came with everything for the final phase of qualifying, with the two best first sectors, having made a mistake in the penultimate corner and losing some time, jumped to the front of the timesheet, with the mark of 1:18.399s, beaten by Sergio Pérez by 0.001s, with the Mexican taking first place.
Charles Leclerc, with a very good lap, climbed to first place with a time of 1:18.239. Fernando Alonso, who was in the spotlight in Q2, was having an excellent lap, but at turn 11 the Alpine rider lost control of the single seater and went straight ahead, hitting the protections of the Australian circuit. Alonso later explained that he lost the hydraulics and was unable to change gears. This may have been the cause of the Spaniard’s accident, who could have achieved a good result in qualifying.
Daniel Ricciardo, before the Alonso incident, managed to get fourth place on the timesheet, which would possibly be beaten by Carlos Sainz, but the Ferrari driver saw the red flag caused by his compatriot’s accident and was unable to establish a mark that would put him in the top positions.
The two Mercedes drivers were the first to take to the track at the start of the session, with just over 6 minutes to go, after being interrupted as a result of Fernando Alonso’s accident.
While Sergio Pérez finished his first fast lap after the session restarted 0.001s off Leclerc’s time, Lewis Hamilton trailed Daniel Ricciardo in sixth place, but George Russell beat his teammate’s time to move up to fourth in the table. from time.
Carlos Sainz ended Q3 as one of the losers, leaving only the 9th record, after a mistake made at turn 10. Unable to join his teammate and the two Red Bulls, it was Lando Norris who smiled, as he will leave from the second row of the grid, in fourth place.
Lewis Hamilton managed a better last attempt and will start from fifth on the starting grid in tomorrow’s race, ahead of his teammate George Russell, Daniel Ricciardo, Esteban Ocon, Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso, with no time recorded, will come out of 10th place.

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