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Leclerc takes dramatic Australian GP pole after "dangerous" qualifying

Leclerc takes dramatic Australian GP pole after "dangerous" qualifying

F1 News

Leclerc takes dramatic Australian GP pole after "dangerous" qualifying

Leclerc takes dramatic Australian GP pole after "dangerous" qualifying

Charles Leclerc took pole for the Australian Grand Prix after a dramatic and heavily disrupted qualifying session.

The Ferrari driver set a lap time of one minute 17.868secs, almost three tenths faster than Max Verstappen for Red Bull.

Sergio Perez qualified third fastest but faces a trip to the stewards for failing to obey yellow flags as drivers struggled with the setting sun in Melbourne.

Complaints about the low sun ahead of Q3 came in a flurry with some asking for new helmets with darker visors and others, like Verstappen, adding tape to his original visor.

Leclerc labelled the conditions as "dangerous" over team radio, such was the glare from the sun.

The lateness of the finish was caused by a red flag delay following a collision between Nicholas Latifi and Lance Stroll before Alex Albon broke down on track after Q1 had finished.

There was a further delay when Fernando Alonso crashed out in Q3 when on a stunning lap with the Spaniard setting the fastest middle sector of the session.

The Alpine slid wide at turn 11 and skirted across the gravel before hitting the barrier, with Alonso citing hydraulic issues as the cause over team radio.

The timing of the red flag was an inconvenience for Sainz, who failed to complete his lap by a matter of metres, setting the Ferrari driver back for the final five minutes of the session. He eventually finished only ninth.

Verstappen had been on a storming lap at the beginning of Q1 but locked up into the penultimate corner and losing time.

McLaren returned to form in front of Daniel Ricciardo's home crowd, with the Australian qualifying seventh, behind of team-mate Lando Norris, who finished an impressive fourth.

Mercedes managed to get both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell into the final session and whilst the W13 remained well off the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari, the seven-time champion ended fifth, ahead of his team-mate in sixth.

Esteban Ocon finished eighth as Alpine squandered what at one stage looked a much more promising qualifying session.

Bottas' stellar streak comes to an end

Valtteri Bottas entered the weekend hoping to extend his streak for consecutive Q3 appearances to 104 races, with only Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost having qualified in the top 10 more times in succession.

But the Alfa Romeo driver was unable to reach the final part of qualifying despite showing strong pace throughout the weekend.

The Finn was joined by team-mate Guanyu Zhou, both AlphaTauris and Mick Schumacher in missing out on the top 10, with Yuki Tsunoda running wide at turn 11 on his final lap.

Latifi and Stroll in bizarre collision

Latifi and Stroll ended their days early with a bizarre collision with two minutes left in Q1.

The Williams driver let his compatriot through before turn five before the Aston Martin immediately slowed. With Latifi keen to get back around for another lap, he attempted to get back past Stroll, only for the pair to come together.

There was a subsequent red flag to recover both cars and the mass of debris on the circuit.

The damage was especially costly to Williams given Latifi's qualifying incident in Saudi Arabia last time out, whilst the collision came just moments after Stroll had taken to the track having had his AMR22 repaired following a crash in final practice.

Latifi's team-mate Albon was eliminated with the 16th quickest time but stopped by the side of the circuit after the end of the session.

He was joined in the drop by Sebastian Vettel - who was only able to take to the track because of the red flag delay following repairs to his own Aston Martin - and Kevin Magnussen for Haas.

Australian Grand Prix qualifying results

1. Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] 1.17.868s

2. Max Verstappen [Red Bull] 1.18.154

3. Sergio Perez [Red Bull] 1.18.240

4. Lando Norris [McLaren] 1:18.703

5. Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] 1.18.825

6. George Russell [Mercedes] 1.18.933

7. Daniel Ricciardo [McLaren] 1.19.032

8. Esteban Ocon [Alpine] 1.19.061

9. Carlos Sainz [Ferrari] 1.19.408

10. Fernando Alonso [Alpine] no time

Eliminated Q2

11. Pierre Gasly [AlphaTauri] 1.19.580

12. Valtteri Bottas [Alfa Romeo] 1.19.251

13. Yuki Tsunoda [AlphaTauri] 1.19.742

14. Zhou Guanyu [Alfa Romeo] 1.19.910

15. Mick Schumacher [Haas] 1.20.104

Eliminated Q1

16. Alex Albon [Williams] 1.20.135

17. Kevin Magnussen [Haas] 1:20.254

18. Sebastian Vettel [Aston Martin] 1.21.372

19. Nicholas Latifi [Williams] 1:21.372

20. Lance Stroll [Aston Martin] no time

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