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2024 Australian Grand Prix – What Happened in Qualifying?

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Credit: Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

The 2024 Australian Grand Prix gets underway tomorrow with Max Verstappen on pole, but what happened in qualifying?

Verstappen will start ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr. on the front row. It was an impressive performance from the Spaniard, who returned to the paddock after recovering from an appendicitis surgery that saw him miss the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Sergio Pérez’s lap was third fastest but he’ll start the grand prix in sixth on the grid, after the FIA gave him a three-place grid penalty for impeding Nico Hülkenberg.

That means Lando Norris will start on the second row after he completed his best qualifying of the season so far. The Briton finished ahead of Charles Leclerc, who many thought was the favourite for pole position. With Pérez’s grid penalty though, Ferrari will start 1st and 4th, giving them a great chance to get into the lead and battle with Verstappen.

Home favourite Oscar Piastri qualified sixth, starting the race in fifth. The Australian wasn’t too happy with his final lap on Saturday, but he’s still in a great position to score big points in front of his home crowd.

George Russell was the lead Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team and will start Sunday in sixth. Mercedes have really struggled for pace this weekend, so a 7th place start will be a positive for Russell as he continues to perform well in difficult circumstances.

The performance of qualifying came from Yuki Tsunoda. The Visa Cash App RB driver made it to Q3 for the second consecutive race, and put in a storming lap to secure P8 on the grid.

The Japanese driver placed himself on the grid ahead of both Aston Martin Armaco F1 Team drivers, with Lance Stroll ahead of Fernando Alonso in ninth and tenth respectively. Alonso had a scare during his first attempt in Q3, hitting the gravel trap at turn nine and ten. The Spaniard never really recovered from the incident, with the team unable to investigate if there’s any damages.

The biggest shock of the day was a Q2 exit for Lewis Hamilton. The seven time world champion had been complaining about the performance of the W15 all weekend, describing Free Practice 2 as his worst session in Formula 1. His poor weekend continued, with Tsunoda and Stroll knocking him out in the final few minutes of the session.

Credit: LAT Images

Alex Albon took over Logan Sargeant’s chassis because of a crash that damaged his own car in FP1, leaving the American driver unable to compete this weekend. James Vowles described the decision as the hardest thing he’s had to do but it was due to Albon’s performance in the first two rounds. The Thai driver secured a slot on the grid next to Hamilton in twelfth.

Valtteri Bottas was the lead Stake F1 Team driver, lining in thirteenth ahead of the lead Haas F1 Team driver Kevin Magnussen. Esteban Ocon and BWT Alpine F1 Team have failed to get out of Q1 in every race so far this season, but that run ended with Ocon getting into Q2. Although he finished up in 15th, it’s progress for the French team, who have really struggled so far this year.

Nico Hülkenberg, Pierre Gasly, Daniel Ricciardo and Zhou Guanyu all got knocked out in Q1. Ricciardo had a lap time deleted for track limits, which may have seen him reach Q2.

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