Max Verstappen came out on top of a hectic qualifying session in Melbourne after holding off a surprisingly fast Mercedes charge at Albert Park this morning.
George Russell and Lewis Hamilton will start Sunday’s race in P2 and P3 respectively after their stellar efforts down under to challenge Verstappen in the Red Bull.
It wasn’t a great day on the other side of the Red Bull garage after the Dutchman’s teammate Sergio Perez crashed out in Q1. But it seemed the challenge of cool and windy conditions at Albert Park suitd the Mercedes W14 down to the ground.
Hamilton was just nine-thousandths of a second off Verstappen after the first set of laps in Q3, but the reigning world champion was able to stretch a 0.2s advantage as he delivered a 1:16.732 in the closing moments.
Russell managed to secure his place on the front row, after edging out Hamilton by a further tenth leaving his seven-time world champion teammate having to settle for third.
Speaking after the session, Verstappen said: “I think the last run was very good. The whole weekend has been very tough to get the tyres ready to push straight away, but it worked out in Q3 and I am very happy with the lap to be on pole position.
“I think we will have a good race car but it is tricky to keep the tyres alive so it will be an interesting race for sure.”
Fernando Alonso landed in fourth but will be closely eyeing his third podium in as many races this season, while his team-mate Lance Stroll was sixth.
Carlos Sainz splits the Aston Martins in fifth on Sunday, after getting ahead of his Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc, who was seventh.
Alexander Albon in the Williams put in a stellar qualifying performance and will take off from eighth, after reaching Q3 for the first time this season. He finished ahead of Alpine’s Pierre Gasly and Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg, who close out the top ten for tomorrow’s race.
Lights out at Albert Park is 6:00 am Irish time.
Here are some more highlights from Saturday in Australia: