Formula 1 Racing

Verstappen repels Ferrari threat to continue run of pole positions · F1 · RaceFans

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Max Verstappensecured a hat trick of poles to start the 2024 season in Melbourne after warding off a challenge from Ferrari in qualifying.

The world champion was the only driver to break under the 1’16s barrier as he took pole around Albert Park by over two tenths from Carlos Sainz Jnr’s Ferrari.

Sergio Perez took third, but is likely to face a penalty as he is under investigation for impeding Nico Hulkenberg in the opening phase of qualifying.


The 100,000-strong crowd around the Albert Park circuit anticipated an intensely competitive qualifying session as the evening sun appeared in the Victorian sky, causing temperatures to rise compared to the final practice session.

After taking over his team mate’s Williams, Alexander Albon was the first driver to attempt a push lap. However, a mistake at the fast turn nine and ten chicane led to him running wide and his first lap time was deleted.

Esteban Ocon had an early scare in his Alpine when he clipped the outside barrier at the exit of the final corner, appearing to cause him a left-rear puncture. He managed to recover to the pits without interrupting many of his rivals putting in their first runs of the session.

Verstappen used a new set of soft tyres to set the early benchmark, but he complained of heavy understeer in his Red Bull. His time was easily beaten by both Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr and the two McLarens of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris. Verstappen improved on his second push lap, but so did the Ferraris. Sainz went quickest of all with a 1’16.731, a quarter of a second faster than his team mate.

Many drivers found improvements were possible by staying on their same set of soft tyres and cooling them down over two laps before pushing once again. Both Red Bull drivers and Mercedes used this approach to find more time, though the RB20s extracted much more.

With Sargeant not participating, only four drivers were to be eliminated from the first phase. In the final minutes, Daniel Ricciardo was one of those in need of improving to avoid elimination. He managed to do so with his final effort, but after running clearly wide at the exit of turn four, his best time was deleted and his elimination guaranteed.

After all drivers had completed their final laps and taken the chequered flag, Ocon and Kevin Magnussen had safely secured passage through to Q2 in 14th and 15th, respectively. That left Nico Hulkenberg as the first driver out in the second Haas along with Pierre Gasly in…

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