Verstappen Takes Pole in Australia, Hamilton Knocked Out in Q2

Verstappen Takes Pole in Australia, Hamilton Knocked Out in Q2

Verstappen Takes Pole in Australia, Hamilton Knocked Out in Q2: Max Verstappen continued his dominant start to the 2024 Formula 1 season, claiming pole position for the Australian Grand Prix. The reigning world champion held off a strong challenge from Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who returns to action after missing the Saudi Arabian GP due to appendix surgery.

Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton suffered a major setback in his Mercedes, failing to advance past the second qualifying session (Q2). He’ll start Sunday’s race from 11th, his worst grid position in Melbourne since 2009.

Verstappen makes it three poles in three races this season, but Ferrari’s impressive pace with Sainz indicates a close battle at the front. Sergio Perez, originally third for Red Bull, was demoted to sixth after a penalty for impeding Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg in Q1. This moves Lando Norris (McLaren) up to third, his best starting position this year.

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Ferrari looked strong in earlier sessions, with Charles Leclerc joining Sainz in the top spots, but Verstappen found extra speed in his Red Bull for the decisive Q3 laps. His pole-setting time of 1:15.915 was nearly three-tenths faster than Sainz could manage.

Mercedes, after promising signs in practice, again struggled in qualifying. Hamilton barely made it through Q1, only to be eliminated in Q2 by a late surge from AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda. Teammate George Russell scraped into Q3 and qualified seventh, a stark contrast to the team’s front-row performance in Melbourne last year.

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Adding to woes in the Mercedes camp, a track limits violation cost Daniel Ricciardo a spot in Q2. The Australian fan favorite will start 18th at his home race.

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