Pole position in Australia for Verstappen

The three-time champion will line up on the front row alongside Ferrari's Carlos Sainz

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 on track during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Albert Park Circuit on March 23, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202403230040 // Usage for editorial use only //

Max Verstappen continues his dominant start to the season, as he’s set to start tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix from pole position.

The Red Bull driver faced stiff competition from the Ferraris, but Charles Leclerc’s hopes were dashed when he ran wide on his final flying lap, forcing him to pit instead of completing the lap.

Carlos Sainz, returning from appendix surgery, joins the reigning champion on the front row, with Sergio Perez in third.

Just 19 cars took part in qualifying, with Logan Sargeant sitting the race out after Alex Albon damaged his chassis on Friday. With Williams not bringing a spare to the race, the team elected to put the more experienced driver in the car ahead of Sargeant.

Esteban Ocon’s hopes of progressing for Q1 were dealt an early blow when he ran wide and picked up a puncture, but with new tyres the Frenchman had enough pace to give Alpine their first Q2 appearance of the season.

There was disappointment for the home fans when Daniel Ricciardo had his fastest time deleted for a track limits issue, leaving him in the bottom four.

There was a close contest in Q2 for places in the top 10, with seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton missing out after late pace from Lance Stroll and Yuki Tsunoda.

Fernando Alonso avoided a big crash in Q3 as he ran wide at high speed, but while he avoided the barriers the incident cost him track time, allowing teammate Stroll to start ahead of his in tomorrow’s race.

Provisional classification:

1 Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

2. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)

3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)

4. Lando Norris (McLaren)

5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

6, Oscar Piastri (McLaren)

7. George Russell (Mercedes)

8. Yuki Tsunodo (VCARB)

9. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)

10. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin)

11. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

12. Alex Albon (Williams)

13. Valtteri Bottas (Sauber)

14. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

15. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)

16. Nico Hulkenberg (Haas)

17. Pierre Gasly (Alpine)

18. Daniel Ricciardo (VCARB)

19. Guanyu Zhou (Sauber)

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