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Charles Leclerc snatches pole with record lap


Ferrari on top at Albert Park.

A thrilling afternoon at Albert Park has set up an epic Formula 1® Heineken® Australian Grand Prix 2022, in which Charles Leclerc will start from pole position.

A Ferrari will start from pole position for the first time in nine years after he set a lap time of 1m17.868s, beating Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to pole by 0.286s.

Leclerc was delighted with his second pole of the season.

“It felt good!” he said. “It is a track where I have always struggled in the past as a driver, we really worked hard it was a bit messy through the practice sessions for me, but it feels great.

“The car is nice to drive but the Red Bulls are good on a long run, hopefully we can do well tomorrow.”

In front of an estimated 123,247 spectators, Verstappen fell just short but settled for second on the grid, ahead of teammate Sergio Perez.

“A bit of a struggle,” he admitted. “There has not been one lap where I have felt that good weekend.

“For me this weekend so far has been all over the place, I’m happy to be second, but as a team we want more”.

Perez, who was on pole two weeks ago in Saudi Arabia, was less than 0.1s behind his teammate.

“It felt good, Q1 was good but with the red flag it was hard to keep the momentum going,” he said.

“We had a good strategy in the tyres. I think we have a good race car and P3 is a decent start for tomorrow. Hopefully, we can give the fans a nice race.”

Lando Norris will start fourth ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who only tipped his Mercedes-Benz teammate George Russell out of fifth in the final seconds of the session.

Norris’s McLaren teammate Daniel Ricciardo will start seventh, easily beating his stated aim of making it into the top 10 in Qualifying.

Alpine driver Esteban Ocon was the eighth fastest ahead of Carlos Sainz, who lost a qualifying lap due to a red flag.

“Disaster,” said the Spaniard. “Everything that could go wrong did. I will be angry until I go to bed tonight.”

That was caused when Fernando Alonso crashed his Alpine when it was jammed in gear. The two-time world champion has just set the fast second sector of the session to that point and will start the race from 10th on Sunday.

The first session ended with a red flag after an all-Canadian collision between Nicolas Latifi and Lance Stroll, after the latter’s Aston Martin was repaired after his Practice crash.

The drivers eliminated in the Q2 session were Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri), Mick Schumacher (Haas) and the Alfa Romeo pair of Guanyu Zhao and veteran Valtteri Bottas, who ended a 100-plus race streak of making it into Q3.

The drivers eliminated from the Q1 session were Alex Albon (Williams), Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Latifi (Williams), Stroll and Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin).

Sunday’s race is due to start at 4pm.