Max Verstappen beat the Mercedes drivers to claim pole position for the Australian Grand Prix while his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez will start last after crashing in the first part of Formula 1 qualifying.
Verstappen topped Q1 and Q2 but faced an unlikely challenge in Q3 as he complained of an issue that left him only marginally quicker than a group of five drivers who were covered by less than three tenths after the opening runs.
But Verstappen found half a second on his last flying lap and took his second pole of the season with a 1m16.732s while his team-mate – who sits just one point behind him in the standings – will start 19 places behind him.
Checo locked up at Turn 3 👀#AusGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/oL27tRnwsk
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 1, 2023
Perez had struggled throughout the final practice session with multiple off-track moments and frustration over a car issue that he complained of again when qualifying began.
His qualifying didn’t last long as he locked up into the Turn 3 right-hander and terminally slid his RB19 into the gravel.
The Saudi Arabian GP winner’s stricken Red Bull red flagged the session and he will start the grand prix from 20th after failing to set a time.
George Russell pipped his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to earn his first front row start of the year. Russell was 0.236 seconds slower than Verstappen with Hamilton a further tenth adrift.
Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso ended up fourth ahead of Carlos Sainz and his team-mate Lance Stroll, who beat Charles Leclerc to sixth place on the grid.
Alex Albon was a sensational eighth in Q3 for Williams ahead of Alpine’s Pierre Gasly and Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg.
Esteban Ocon encountered Lando Norris and Leclerc at the penultimate corner on his last Q2 lap and ended up falling 0.007s short of a place in Q3.
Yuki Tsunoda qualified his AlphaTauri in 12th ahead of Norris’s McLaren and Kevin Magnussen, who suffered a third successive qualifying defeat to his new Haas team-mate Hulkenberg.
F1 rookie Nyck de Vries made it into Q2 for the first time as an AlphaTauri driver while Oscar Piastri couldn’t escape Q1 in his first qualifying section at his home circuit.
Piastri was 16th ahead of Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo, fellow F1 rookie Logan Sargeant, Valtteri Bottas and Perez.
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1m17.384s||1m17.056s||1m16.732s|
|4||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin-Mercedes||1m17.832s||1m17.283s||1m17.139s|
|6||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||1m17.873s||1m17.616s||1m17.308s|
|12||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||1m18.471s||1m18.099s|
|15||Nyck de Vries||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||1m18.45s||1m18.335s|
|17||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||1m18.54s|
|19||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||1m18.714s|
|20||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull|