Max Verstappen takes Australian GP pole as Lewis Hamilton suffers shock Q2 exit

It was business as usual for Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who made it three poles from three races in F1 2024.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen claimed his third successive pole position of the 2024 F1 season at the Australian Grand Prix.

Red Bull’s reigning world champion did not top a session in Melbourne until it mattered most as he set a searing pace in Q3 as the only driver to get into the 1m15s.

Carlos Sainz impressed as Verstappen’s nearest challenger on his return to action following surgery to remove his appendix, with the Spaniard just 0.270s behind Verstappen as he put his Ferrari between the Red Bulls.

Sergio Perez was third-quickest and will be joined on the second row by McLaren’s Lando Norris, who surprisingly out-qualified Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari.

Sixth went the way of Oscar Piastri in the other McLaren, with George Russell once again the fastest Mercedes driver in qualifying as he took seventh.

RB’s Yuki Tsunoda was an eye-catching eighth, while the Aston Martin duo of Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso completed the top-10.

Lewis Hamilton was the big casualty of Q2 as he suffered his worst qualifying around Albert Park since 2010 with a time only good for 11th on the grid.

The seven-time world champion holds the record for most poles in Melbourne with eight but was unable to join Mercedes teammate Russell in the top-10.

The sole Williams of Alex Albon was 12th-fastest after the team took the controversial decision to swap Logan Sargeant’s chassis after Albon had written off his car with a huge crash in FP1.

Sauber’s Valtteri Bottas took 13th, ahead of the Haas and Alpine cars of Kevin Magnussen, Esteban Ocon, Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly.

Daniel Ricciardo will start on the back row of the grid after having his fastest lap time deleted for exceeding track limits as he suffered his first ever Q1 elimination at his home race. 

The RB driver will be joined at the very back by Zhou Guanyu, who picked up front wing damage on his Sauber as he ended up slowest of the 19 runners. 

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