Charles Leclerc will start the first Australian Grand Prix since 2019 from pole position after putting in an impression performance in qualifying at Melbourne Park.
The Ferrari driver was quarter of a second faster than nearest rival, Max Verstappen, who was just ahead of teammate Sergio Perez.
The Aston Martin mechanics were busy at the start of the session as Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll both crashed in final practice, with the team able to repair the Canadian’s car, but it looked like Vettel would miss the session.
There was a red flag in Q1 when an apparent misunderstanding between Nicholas Latifi and Stroll saw the two Canadian drivers come together, with Latifi colliding with the wall, and the Aston Martin driver unable to complete his lap.
The stoppage did give Aston Martin time to finish the repairs to Vettel’s car though, ensuring the German was ready to take to the track when the session retstarted, but he wasn’t able to make it out of Q1.
Alex Albon already knew he’d be starting towards the back of the field after picking up a three-place grid penalty last time out, and he found himself in the bottom five. There were further issues for the Thai driver though as he was told to stop the car on the way back to the pits, leaving Williams with work to do on both cars.
There was a further delay in Q3 when Fernando Alonso put a wheel on the grass, sending his Alpine into the wall and bringing out the red flag for a second time.
Lando Norris joins Perez on the second row, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz having struggled to match the Monegasque driver in Q3, while the Mercedes cars line up on row 3.
Provisional qualifying result:
1 Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
4. Lando Norris (McLaren)
5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
6. George Russell (Mercedes)
7. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
8. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
9. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
10. Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
11. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
12. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)
13. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)
14. Guanyu Zhou (Alfa Romeo)
15. Mick Schumacher (Haas)
16. Alex Albon (Williams)*
17. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
18. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)
19. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
20. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
*Albon has a 3-place grid penalty for causing a collision in Saudi Arabia