Leclerc on pole with Sainz ninth: Australian GP qualifying as it happened
Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen share the front row but the Ferrari man will be on pole for the Australian GP
Charles Leclerc took a comprehensive pole position ahead of Max Verstappen but Carlos Sainz will start down in ninth position.
The championship leader bested the world champion by 0.286sec to take Ferrari’s first pole at Albert Park since 2007.
Sergio Perez will line up third on the grid but is under investigation for a potential yellow flag infringement and failing to slow sufficiently.
The session was delayed on multiple ocassions with two red flags for crashes including a bizarre incident between Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi in Q1.
Fernando Alonso also found the barriers after his Alpine car let him down having been on a strong lap in the final segment.
Here is how qualifying unfolded at Albert Park for the 2022 Australian Grand Prix.
As the track slowly filled up, work continued on down at Aston Martin after Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll’s FP3 crashes.
Charles Leclerc’s 1min 19.391sec was the first proper benchmark to beat. Carlos Sainz went 0.2sec clear of that effort while Sergio Perez managed to split the Ferraris on the first runs.
Nicholas Latifi did well to save his Williams from sliding into the barriers after catching the gravel on Turn 11 exit.
The McLarens were looking much more competitive this weekend. Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo were sixth and seventh respectively after the first runs. Fernando Alonso managed to put his Alpine ahead of those two until Valtteri Bottas moved himself up to the top five in fifth.
Verstappen’s second effort was a better one but still behind the top time. Leclerc’s second flyer was into the 1min 18s and 0.044sec clear of the Dutchman.
Mercedes waited until seven minutes remaining for their first laps. George Russell popped up into 10th with Lewis Hamilton 11th. A snap of oversteer at T11 forced him to drop time in the final sector.
Red Bull was back on top with a 1min 18.580sec, the new best time from Verstappen.
The fight to get out of Q1 was between AlphaTauri, Haas and Zhou Guanyu. Kevin Magnussen was struggling to match his team-mate’s pace down in 17th.
The task was made even more difficult following contact between Lance Stroll and Latifi with 2mins remaining of the session and red flags.
Stroll had overtaken Latifi after Turn 4 but his compatriot went to reovertake him. A misunderstanding meant that the Aston Martin driver tagged the Williams as he went to retake the place, pitching Latifi into the wall and resulting in heavy damage.
Stroll’s front right suspension was also broken and he was out of the session too.
With just two minutes left, a queue at the end of the pitlane was inevitable and headed up by Ricciardo, who was out of the garage well before the green light to resume.
Second in the queue Alexander Albon was warned “elbows out” for the outlap while Vettel did manage to get to the back of the queue after repairs by Aston Martin were finished 30sec before qualifying resumed.
Magnussen and Albon battled for track position and the Dane eventually overtook Ricciardo to lead the pack. The only cars not to make the flag to start a final lap were the Mercedes duo.
After all the anticipation there were very few improvements. Vettel managed to go 18th but was eliminated along with the crashing Canadians, Magnussen and Albon. The latter was forced to pull off just ahead of the penultimate corner on his in-lap to compound the team’s woes.
The start of Q2 was delayed as the marshals recovered the stricken Williams but the track was immediately very busy once things did get going.
Red Bull set the pace early on, Verstappen leading the pack with a 1min 18.611sec. George Russell survived an excursion off track at Turn 11 on his first attempt but Alonso put in a stellar time to go second-fastest for Alpine, 0.2sec down on the world champion.
Sergio Perez went top of the pile on his second flying lap but was under investigation for failing to slow sufficiently for yellow flags on his earlier time.
Hamilton was on a flying lap with seven minutes left but was squeezed by Verstappen who on a cool down lap approaching Turn 6. It left the other Red Bull potentially in hot water for blocking too.
Leclerc moved himself into second with two and half minutes to go but team-mate Sainz was suffering massively with porpoising in fourth.
As the chequered flag fell, Ocon bumped Pierre Gasly into the drop zone. The Frenchman couldn’t improve and was eliminated from qualifying. Mick Schumacher, team-mate Yuki Tsunoda and the Alfa Romeo drivers were the ones who joined him on the sidelines.
Leclerc had swapped to a new helmet for Q3 with a dark visor tint as the sun dipped lower and lower following the delays. Hamilton and Verstappen also requested the same heading into the final qualifying segment of the day.
Both Alpines, McLarens, Mercedes, Ferraris and Red Bulls comprised the top 10 but only four drivers stood a real chance of pole.
Verstappen was flying until a lock-up at the final corner undid his hard work. He went fastest on a 1min 18.399sec but the benchmark should have been lower. Perez managed beat that time by a slender 0.001sec margin on his lap moments later.
Fernando Alonso had set a purple sector two time but the hard work was undone late on. The Spaniard said he’d lost hydraulics preventing him from changing down gears. The extra speed sent him into the gravel and eventually the barriers at Turn 11. The crash brought out the red flags again.
The timing of the flag caught Sainz out, coming out just meters before he could finish off his first lap. Team-mate Leclerc just snuck his time in under green flag conditions up ahead of him to hold provisional pole.
With just under seven minutes left of Q3, the session resumed and the two Mercedes drivers were out right away. The Silver Arrows opted for two preparation laps on their fresh set of C5 soft tyres.
Perez went early on his flying effort and posted a 1min 18.240sec, missing out on provisional pole by an agonising 0.001sec.
Hamilton filtered through sixth-fastest but Russell managed to go better, fourth ahead of the final runs.
Verstappen’s final lap was cleaner and good enough for provisional pole but with Leclerc behind him, the Monégasque left it late to secure the prime grid slot over his rival.
Sainz made an error on his final lap and despite making the cheqeured flag before it fell, didn’t push on with another flyer.
Hamilton improved to fifth as the last driver over the line to head up the Mercedes team-mates.
2022 Australian Grand Prix qualifying results
|1||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||1min 17.868sec|
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1min 18.154sec|
|3||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||1min 18.240sec|
|4||Lando Norris||McLaren||1min 18.703sec|
|5||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1min 18.825sec|
|6||George Russell||Mercedes||1min 18.933sec|
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||1min 19.032sec|
|8||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||1min 19.061sec|
|9||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||1min 19.408sec|
|10||Fernando Alonso||Alpine||No time|
|11||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||1min 19.226sec|
|12||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||1min 19.410sec|
|13||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||1min 19.424sec|
|14||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo||1min 20.155sec|
|15||Mick Schumacher||Haas||1min 20.465sec|
|16||Alexander Albon||Williams||1min 20.135sec|
|17||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||1min 20.254sec|
|18||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||1min 21.149sec|
|19||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||1min 21.372sec|
|20||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||No time|