Weather: dry 14°C
Tarmac: dry 21°C
Wind: 2 km/h SE
Pressure: 1013.0 bar
Max Verstappen qualified as quickest for the 22nd time in his F1 career and scored his first pole position for tomorrow's 37th Australian Grand Prix. It was the 83rd pole for Red Bull Racing.
Just 10 minutes before the start of the eagerly anticipated qualifying session, a sudden downpour almost changed the dry quali into a wet one. Despite the precarious conditions, all drivers boldly opted for slick tires, showcasing their determination to secure the best possible grid position.
As the clock showed 11:44 minutes remaining, the session was abruptly halted by a red flag incident. Red Bull's Sergio Pérez found himself stranded off the track after losing control of his RB19 at Turn 3. Until that point, Haas' Nico Hülkenberg had been leading the pack, posting an impressive 1:18.373 lap time. At this juncture, only ten drivers had managed to set a lap time.
The tension continued to build as the final five minutes approached, with the following drivers at risk of elimination: Logan Sargeant (Williams), Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo), Oscar Piastri (McLaren), Kevin Magnussen (Haas), and Pérez. In a remarkable effort, Magnussen surged ahead, claiming the tenth spot and narrowly avoiding the drop zone. His last-ditch push meant that Alfa Romeo's Guanyu Zhou was left on the cusp of elimination, highlighting the fiercely competitive nature of this extraordinary qualifying session.
In stark contrast to the earlier drama, the second qualifying session unfolded seamlessly, devoid of any incidents. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc displayed his skill and adaptability, powering his car to P3 as he began to find his rhythm on the track.
An incredibly close battle ensued, with the top 10 drivers separated by a mere half-second. However, the landscape shifted when Max Verstappen delivered a blistering 1:17.056 lap, further intensifying the competition. Teams such as Alpine, McLaren, and AlphaTauri found themselves in a fierce struggle to secure a spot in the coveted Q3 session.
In a heart-stopping moment, Esteban Ocon of Alpine just missed the cut, falling short by an agonizing 0.0007 seconds. This razor-thin margin underscored the relentless intensity and determination displayed by each driver in the pursuit of victory.
As the threat of rain loomed over the final qualifying session, Max Verstappen was the first to hit the track, aiming to secure a solid lap time. His initial effort of 1:17.578, however, fell short of expectations. Fernando Alonso, George Russell, Carlos Sainz, Charles Leclerc, and Lewis Hamilton successively outpaced the Red Bull driver.
Determined to reclaim the top spot, Verstappen surged back to P1, edging out Hamilton by a mere 0.009 seconds. The extraordinary competitiveness of the session was highlighted by the top 9 drivers being separated by just 0.413 seconds – a level of closeness never before witnessed in Formula 1 history.
In the final moments, Verstappen demonstrated his prowess by improving his lap time by a staggering half-second, securing pole position. Meanwhile, Mercedes locked out P2 and P3, with Russell outpacing his teammate Hamilton, setting the stage for an electrifying race day.
The fastest sector times during this quali for the 2023 Australian F1 GP were:
- Sector 1: 26.574 sec. by Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
- Sector 2: 17.415 sec. by Alex Albon (Williams)
- Sector 3: 32.702 sec. by Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
The pole position time of last season in Melbourne was a 1:17,868 min driven by Sergio Pérez in the Red Bull RB19.
Quali Times 2023 Australian GP
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1:17.384||1:17.056||1:16.732||24|
|4||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin||1:17.832||1:17.283||1:17.139||26|
|6||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||1:17.873||1:17.616||1:17.308||26|
|15||21||Nyck de Vries||AlphaTauri||1:18.450||1:18.335||23|
|17||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo||1:18.540||12|
|19||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||1:18.714||12|
|20||11||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull||no time||2|
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