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Charles Leclerc takes pole and Max Verstappen in second for Australian Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton fifth on grid


FERRARI’S Charles Leclerc will start on pole for the Australian Grand Prix with Max Verstappen in second.

It was a dramatic finish to qualifying as Fernando Alonso’s crash threatened to shake up the standings.

Charles Leclerc was delighted with pole position

Max Verstappen revealed he was not confident heading into any lap[/caption]

Sky Sports

Lewis Hamilton is happy with fifth place after a nightmare in practice[/caption]

Leclerc, 24, had set the fastest time before the Spaniard’s crash but Verstappen then pipped him to set the fastest time of the day.

The Frenchman had to respond and did exactly that with a blistering final lap, beating Verstappen by two-hundredths of a second.

However his team-mate Carlos Sainz had a day to forget, finishing ninth after his first flying lap failed to record a time as the red flag was thrown due to Alonso’s crash, just before Sainz crossed the line.

His compatriot Alonso will also be licking his wounds as he was 0.2secs up on Leclerc’s first lap time after two sectors of his flying lap before his incident.

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Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez took third with F1’s British trio finishing next behind him.

Landa Norris took fourth with Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and George Russell next on the grid in fifth and sixth respectively.

Daniel Ricciardo is next in seventh with Esteban Ocon eighth and Fernando Alonso tenth.

Leclerc’s pole is his second of the year in three races and he was delighted with the result after admitting he hs struggled so far this weekend.


Leclerc told Sky Sports: “It felt very good, overall very happy because it is a track I have always struggled at in the past.

“I have struggled this weekend I don’t know if you could see it from outside.

But I was struggling with a lot of mistakes and being inconsistent and I really worked on that and tried to put a good lap together in Q3.

“In Q3 I managed to put everything together and very happy to be starting on pole.”

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Verstappen has also struggled with his car this weekend, saying after finishing second: “I didn’t feel good in the car the whole weekend so far.

“There wasn’t one lap where I felt confident. Second is good but it’s not great when you can’t go to the limit.”

Meanwhile, Hamilton was delighted to be back towards the front of the grid after the Jeddah disaster and a difficult practice session.

He said to Sky Sports: “We worked hard throughout the night, everyone back at the factory was working hard to try and figure out where we could go with the set-up.

“I think we extracted the most from the car today. I feel like my lap there was a little bit more in the car.

“That’s a positive, I’m naturally also gutted. I wasn’t able to extract that little bit.

“When you push that car just a little bit more she’s quite spiteful. She’s like a viper or a rattlesnake.

“We just have to try and find a level of the bouncing as hardcore as we can go without rattling our brains out of our skulls.”

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