close
Thursday June 20, 2024

Max Verstappen on pole in Australia ahead of George Russell

After winning the season-opening race in Bahrain, Dutch driver Max Verstappen earned his second pole position of the year

By AFP & Web Desk
April 01, 2023
The image shows Max Verstappen, a two-time world champion, who won pole position for the Australian Grand Prix on Saturday. — AFP/file
The image shows Max Verstappen, a two-time world champion, who won pole position for the Australian Grand Prix on Saturday. — AFP/file 

Max Verstappen, a two-time world champion, won pole position for the Australian Grand Prix on Saturday ahead of George Russell of Mercedes, but Sergio Perez, a Red Bull colleague, struggled and will start last.

In a close session that went down to the wire, Lewis Hamilton, driving the other Mercedes, finished third ahead of Fernando Alonso, driving the Aston Martin.

Max Verstappen was also fastest in Q1 ahead of Russell and Hamilton.— Twitter/@F1
Max Verstappen was also fastest in Q1 ahead of Russell and Hamilton.— Twitter/@F1

Carlos Sainz, a teammate of last year's victor Charles Leclerc, finished sixth in the Ferrari.

That was a fantastic performance from Mercedes, whose W14 has been slow but is definitely getting faster as they once again outperformed Ferrari.

Pierre Gasly of Alpine finished ninth, and Nico Hulkenberg of Haas completed the top 10.

After winning the season-opening race in Bahrain, Dutch driver Max Verstappen earned his second pole position of the year and 22nd overall.

Due to technical issues, he had to start from 15th in Saudi Arabia a week ago, but he quickly moved up the pitch to finish second to Perez.

With a flying lap at the very end of one minute 16.732, the 25-year-old eliminated his competitors, finishing 0.236 seconds ahead of Britain's Russell.

"I think the last run was very good, the whole weekend has been tough to get the tyres in the right window," AFP quoted Verstappen as saying, who has never won in Australia and will start on the pole for the first time at Albert Park.

'A dream'

Russell, who came fourth in Saudi Arabia, was stunned with Mercedes' performance, saying "we weren't expecting that, that's for sure".

"What a session for us. The car felt alive, and to be honest, I'm disappointed I didn't get pole as the car felt awesome," he added.

"We are learning more and more about the car, it's still not where we want it to be, but it's evolved from Bahrain to Jeddah to here."

Seven-time world champion Hamilton, who has been the pole-sitter eight times in Melbourne, was briefly at the top of the timesheets and was ecstatic to be starting on the second row.

"I'm so happy with this. This is totally unexpected — just really proud of the team," said the Briton.

"It's a dream for us, to be this close to Red Bull is incredible. We hope to give them a run for their money.

"Everything came together today. We'll give it our best shot tomorrow."

Verstappen topped Q2 from Alonso and Sainz with Alpine's Gasly a casualty.

AlphaTauri pair Nyck De Vries and Yuki Tsunoda also missed out, along with Kevin Magnussen in his Haas and McLaren's Lando Norris.

Verstappen was also the fastest in Q1 ahead of Russell and Hamilton.

Along with Perez, Alfa Romeo's Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas, Williams' Logan Sargeant and rookie McLaren driver Oscar Piastri all failed to get out of Q1.