Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2022

Leclerc denies Verstappen pole after car problem thwarts flying Alonso

2022 Australian Grand Prix qualifying

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Charles Leclerc took his second pole of the season in Australia after denying Max Verstappen with his final effort in qualifying.

Leclerc’s best time of a 1’17.868 was enough to secure pole by almost three tenths of a second ahead of Verstappen. Sergio Perez took a provisional third place, but is under investigation for allegedly failing to slow under yellow flags in Q2. Carlos Sainz Jnr will start ninth on the grid after a red flag cancelled his first Q3 time and he made a mistake in his only timed lap.


The skies around the Albert Park circuit had turned overcast by the time the green light at the pitlane signalled the start of the first qualifying session in Melbourne for three years.

Carlos Sainz Jnr set the early pace with a 1’19.179, ahead of Sergio Perez, Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen. Then Leclerc went quickest by breaking into the 1’18s, with Verstappen improving to go within half a tenth of the Ferrari.

Nicholas Latifi almost hit the wall on the exit of turn 11 after losing control of his Williams through the 90 degree right-hander, but was able to avoid hitting the barriers.

Mercedes went out late in the session for their first flying laps, with Lewis Hamilton going eighth quickest, just four thousandths of a second ahead of team mate George Russell.

After both Aston Martin drivers crashed out in the morning practice session, Lance Stroll was eventually able to take to the track in the final five minutes, while Sebastian Vettel’s car remained under work in the garage. Then, the session was brought to a halt as Stroll and Latifi collided on the exit of turn five, sending the Williams spinning into the barrier and causing the red flags to be immediately flown. The stewards will investigate the collision after the session.

With the session timer frozen at just over two minutes remaining as the track was cleared, Aston Martin had extra time to work on repairs on Vettel’s car. Eventually, Vettel joined the queue at the end of the pit lane for the session to restart, but with only two minutes remaining, it was a race to reach the chequered flag in time.

Vettel did get to start a lap, but his effort was only enough to see him go 18th. Alex Albon failed to reach Q2 and was eliminated in 16th, which means he will start no higher than 19th after his three-place grid penalty for colliding with Stroll in Jeddah.

Kevin Magnussen was eliminated from Q1 for the first time this season in 17th, ahead of Vettel and Latifi in 19th. Having failed to set a lap time, Stroll was 20th and last in the standings.

Q1 result

11Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’18.5800
211Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’18.8340.2540
316Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’18.8810.3010
455Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’18.9830.4030
514Fernando AlonsoAlpine-RenaultA5221’19.1920.6120
677Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’19.2510.6710
74Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’19.2800.7000
844Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’19.4010.8210
963George RussellMercedesW131’19.4050.8250
1010Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’19.5801.0000
1131Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5221’19.6051.0250
123Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’19.6651.0850
1322Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’19.7421.1620
1424Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’19.9101.3300
1547Mick SchumacherHaas-FerrariVF-221’20.1041.5240
1623Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW441’20.1351.5550
1720Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-221’20.2541.6740
185Sebastian VettelAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’21.1492.5690
196Nicholas LatifiWilliams-MercedesFW441’21.3722.7920
2018Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR22No time0

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Before the session, Alex Albon was told to stop his Williams on the circuit at the end of Q1 due to a technical concern over his car. He pulled off after turn 12 and the start of Q2 was delayed by five minutes while the Williams was recovered.

When the session got underway, Red Bull set the initial benchmark with Perez setting the fastest time with a 1’18.340, a quarter of a second ahead of Verstappen on the soft tyres.

George Russell brought out the yellow flags at turn 11 after catching the grass under braking for the corner and taking to the escape road. Perez passed the incident but was later announced to be under investigation by the stewards for failing to respect yellow flags caused by the Mercedes. The investigation will be conducted after qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton passed a slow Max Verstappen on one of his push laps on the approach to turn six, with the Mercedes only just missing the Red Bull at high speed, but thankfully the pair avoided contact.

In the final moments, Hamilton was on the bubble of elimination in tenth place, however Pierre Gasly could not find enough speed to each Q3 and was knocked out in 11th as the chequered flag flew.

Valtteri Bottas could not improve his time by enough to reach the top ten, meaning he would miss Q3 for the first time since the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Yuki Tsunoda was eliminated in 13th, ahead of Zhou Guanyu in the second Alfa Romeo. Mick Schumacher was the last driver out in 15th position.

Q2 result

111Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’18.3400
255Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’18.4690.1290
316Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’18.6060.2660
41Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’18.6110.2710
514Fernando AlonsoAlpine-RenaultA5221’18.8150.4750
64Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’19.0660.7260
763George RussellMercedesW131’19.0760.7360
844Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’19.1060.7660
93Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’19.1300.7900
1031Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5221’19.1360.7960
1110Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’19.2260.8860
1277Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’19.4101.0700
1322Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’19.4241.0840
1424Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’20.1551.8150
1547Mick SchumacherHaas-FerrariVF-221’20.4652.1250

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The battle for pole position appeared to be the most open of the season so far, with both Ferrari and Red Bull drivers looking like they had the pace to compete for the prime starting position for tomorrow’s race.

The Red Bull drivers took to the circuit first, with Verstappen ahead of team mate Perez. Verstappen put together a decent lap but made a slight mistake under braking for turn 13, causing him to lose approximately three tenths of a second. Verstappen took provisional pole with a 1’18.399, but was beaten by just 0.001s by Perez on his first timed effort.

Ferrari waited until after the Red Bulls had set their first laps to send their drivers out, with Leclerc sent out ahead of Sainz. Leclerc took provisional pole with a 1’18.239, to go a tenth-and-a-half faster than Verstappen. Sainz had completed his lap and was just about to cross the line, but before he could the red flag was shown, immediately halting the session.

The cause of the stoppage was Fernando Alonso’s Alpine, which had crashed into the barriers on the exit of turn 11. Replays showed that the Alpine appeared to switch off under braking for the corner, robbing Alonso of the engine braking he relied on to slow the car down and sending him into the barriers. There was another delay while the Alpine was recovered, with just under seven minutes of track time remaining in the session.

Once qualifying resumed for the final time, only the Mercedes pair of Hamilton and Russell and the Red Bull of Perez ventured out on the circuit. The Mercedes opted for two warm up laps before pushing, while Perez immediately went for a hot lap.

Perez’s effort was only 0.001s slower than Leclerc’s provisional pole time, putting him into second place with just under three minutes remaining. Hamilton went sixth fastest on his first push lap, behind Ricciardo, while Russell’s first effort was good enough to put him provisionally fourth, with Sainz the only driver remaining yet to set a time.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Australian Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
Verstappen’s final lap was good enough to see him take provisional pole by just under a tenth, but Leclerc still had one final lap to go and took full advantage, putting in the first 1’17 of the weekend to take pole position by over two tenths.

Having been robbed of his first timed lap, Sainz had only one lap to decide his grid position, but a mistake in the turn nine-10 chicane saw him run wide on the exit of the turn and cost him over a second, meaning he will line up only ninth on the grid.

Sainz’s error meant Lando Norris was able to take advantage and claim fourth on the grid, with Hamilton improving at the chequered flag to take fifth, one tenth faster than team mate Russell. Daniel Ricciardo will start his home grand prix from seventh, ahead of Esteban Ocon, Sainz and Alonso following his car-induced crash.

Q3 result

116Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’17.8680
21Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’18.1540.2860
311Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’18.2400.3720
44Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’18.7030.8350
544Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’18.8250.9570
663George RussellMercedesW131’18.9331.0650
73Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’19.0321.1640
831Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5221’19.0611.1930
955Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’19.4081.5400

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2022 Australian Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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58 comments on “Leclerc denies Verstappen pole after car problem thwarts flying Alonso”

  1. Great lap by Leclerc. He is on it this year. Sainz is already feeling the pressure.
    Great job by Mercedes drivers too in that diva car.

    1. Sainz was actually faster than Leclerc on that first lap though, the pressure was on because of the red flag after Alonso’s car gave up on him (Alonso was also faster than both ferraris at that point though.)

      1. But it was leclerc who got both laps down.

        1. Sainz got the first lap down too but it didn’t count because of red flag. That made him unlucky and put extra pressure for that one last lap while Leclerc had one in the bank. The position could very well be reversed if Leclerc started behind Sainz. Unlucky for Sainz. The most unlucky is Alonso. If he doesn’t have bad luck he has no luck at all.

          1. Yet, he only improved his time(s) on 2 sectors, he didn’t look set to get the PP at any time as he did not have even 1 purple sector… mistake(s) or not.

          2. @mg1982 – take on your spectacles as Alonso was purple on the second sector on his last attempt.

      2. @bascb If he can’t deal with the pressure of having no banker, then he can’t deal with the pressure of a championship. Three times now he has failed to improve in his final flying lap. Instead of being the cool, calm operator that he was touted as, he’s the one who’s choking under pressure.

        1. That is ridiculous.

          He was denied a lap matching Leclerc’s time just a few metters short of the finnish line due to the crash, then at the restart he had trouble starting his engine and could not do a warmup lap. He had a single chance chance to set a time, which is already bad enough under normal circumnstances since you have to be more conservative, and here he had to do it with cold tires. Still people give him crap…

        2. Correction: he is a smooth operator ;-)

      3. It was ONLY the 1st lap of Q3, in 90% of the times that 1st lap time is improved. So, basically, there’s no real proof SAI was even on cards for the PP.

      4. johnandtonic
        9th April 2022, 12:27

        As it is not mentioned in the above report. Ferrari had problems starting Sainz car for his final run. He was delayed leaving the garage and did not get to complete a preparation lap so did his final flying lap on cold tires.

  2. Did lewis drive so slow to prevent george from getting 2 laps? If i remember correctly george didnt get a 2nd lap to improve?

    1. Don´t try to go this road.

      They both completed two hot laps in Q3.

    2. You trying to stir up controversy with your ignorant comments isn’t going to work, fyi…

    3. Only in your head :)

    4. @f1fan-2000 as a person who is often quite critical of Hamilton, myself (as noted yesterday when he said the absolute nonsense of ‘three races on one continent’ line), this is BS to the highest. Yes, he would do this kind of thing if there were 3 races left in the championship and both were in contention (as he employed all kinds of tricks when battling Nico), but his concern isn’t on beating his teammate it’s on doing only the best he can do with the mid-field car he has.

      1. Not so sure. Beating your teammate is always a top priority no matter how low down on the table you are. The way he stole ALO’s turn for the pitstop in Hungaroring ’07 won’t be forgotten. Everyone remembers the big mess afterwards but nobody seems to remember who started it and how it managed to shift the blame.

    5. LH 100% had 1 lap more than GR in Q3. It was also funny to hear LH at press interview saying his car is heavier than GR’s.

      1. johnandtonic
        9th April 2022, 13:35

        Perhaps he put his bling in the glove box?

      2. Wrong. They both did 2 hot laps and both improved. Russell improved from 1:19.003 to 1:18.933 but Lewis improved more.

        1. @vishy Wrong, HL had 2 flying laps in Q3, GR had 1!

      3. LH car has extra sensors and data recording equipment, and is different to GR’s car. Merc have some aero issues they are trying to understand. You could look up the info on the internet, e.g.
        So LH’s car is heavier than GR’s for this race. Why is that funny?

        1. @biker56 No need to explain F1 to me… It’s funny because it implies he could be much faster than GR.

          1. @denis1304
            Yes indeed, he could be much faster than GR, e.g. if GR had a bad lap, or LH had a superb one (like Singapore 2018 pole lap for example – well worth watching the onboard vid). IMHO GR has the potential to be much faster, too. He got some amazing performances out of that Williams last year, and as he has said, he is now in a position to learn from the best in the business.
            There is a LOT of great new talent in the sport now. Looking good for the future!
            Sorry if I don’t find a joke in there anywhere. My bad.

          2. @biker56 LOL Who was 3rd today? Do you get my joke now?

          3. @denis1304 We have completely different ideas of what a “joke” is. I suppose humour is where you find it. Whatever.
            I hope you enjoyed GR’s excellent 3rd place, LH’s 4th, great points for team Merc. But also wonderful stuff from Charles and Sergio too. What a shame RBR can’t seem to make a reliable car though. Good racing all down the field.

  3. Glad to see McLaren finally being in Q3. The aero updates are definitely working and that Merc engine seems to be at par with the rest contrary to what many believed.

    1. Yes, excellent for the racing. McLaren seem to be doing a good job, at least here. And not to mention, Lando’s doing well so far too.
      All the Merc powered runners have been having other issues, I saw a report, from somewhere F1 official, that all the engines are about on par this year. Again, good for the racing.

    2. Wait for Imola to talk about it…

  4. I don’t think Verstappen has had one clean lap this weekend. His season feels very 2018 – he needs to snap out of it, and quickly.

    1. Q3 laps were very clean. 2nd place. What is there to complain about. He will DRS to first place tomorrow as RedBull have in the first 2 races shown to be getting the most advantage with DRS

      1. @kpcart he would’ve, possibly, been on pole had he managed to finish S3 when he was out putting in blinders. No, he hasn’t put together his best one lap this weekend.

    2. Surely it’s a bit early to suggest he’s cracking under the strain. He does seem to complain a lot, although that could just be the reporting. The media often seem to pick quotes to suit their own storyline.

  5. In case of a crash and subsequent red flag, why do they have to nullify all the laps and the entire track immediately. Can’t they decide that the track which is a a meaningful distance ahead of the crash location and until the start finish line can continue racing?

    In this case, crash was in turn 11. Sainz was already on the start finish straight. They could have let drivers who were turn 13 or ahead continue and complete the laps.

    1. @sumedhvidwans Good suggestion.

    2. Terrible suggestion.
      The point of a red flag is to immediately cease competition and neutralise the circuit.
      It’s for safety, not for competitive gain due to being in the right place at the right time. Otherwise, they might as well just use local yellows which already have that function.

    3. @sumedhvidwans while we’re at it, why do we need double yellow flags or VSC when heavy equipment is on the track? It’s not like anyone is going to die… they just need to be aware of the danger and proceed accordingly -_-

    4. @sumedhvidwans @jerejj Because drivers on track don’t know where the accident is when they see red flag and they have to be prepared to stop on track if needed. This makes them abandon lap immediately without them waiting for further instructions.

    5. Masi is gone now.

    6. To all above folks,

      I am not saying safety needs to be compromised for this. Only for the section of track which is ‘meaningfully ahead’ is to be retained green. And it will only not impede those drivers who are already clear of the accident scene.

      This will also stop people from manipulating the session. Imagine the driver knows that his competitor is about to complete a potential pole position lap and is rounding the last corners. The said driver then ‘loses control’ and causes a red flag in turn 2 / turn 3 thereby disallowing his competitor’s lap.

      1. And that means drivers already past the incident will complete their lap and then have to drive past the incident on their in lap…

      2. The whole track needs to be red flagged so marshals, safety cars, medical cars can enter the track from wherever they are, as quick as they can, without fear that an F1 car is coming at them at full pace.

    7. @sumedhvidwans The red flag must be issued when, during a practice session (technically including qualifying), “the circuit is blocked by an accident”. It is indeed unfortunate for the drivers who are further along the track that their times are also deleted, but the idea is that they will immediately return to the pitlane (and not pass the incident). Unfortunately for Sainz, he was in that mere seconds-long window where he couldn’t go to the pitlane, had also effectively completed his lap on normal speed, but hadn’t yet crossed the finish line.

  6. An interesting QLF, but perhaps daylight QLFs shouldn’t begin 2 hours (or less than 1h30min in Suzuka) before sunset anymore, the same for Baku.

  7. Good to see Merc Engines in top 10, but this isn’t so much a power track, they do look behind the other 3 engines, that new Renault engine seems a big upgrade. Gonna be very hard to predict Monaco qualifying

  8. Porpoising quite bad on Ferrari and Merc cars, great effort from Leclerc. Did Rbr solve the porpoising issue?

    1. @icarby I do believe Merc & Ferrari are the two suppliers that have that issue. Kind if … interesting … how those with certain engines are having this issue, no? Or am I forgetting some?

      At any rate, that is going to be one heck of a race for the drivers in those cars. This is not normal for them in the modern era of smooth circuits. I don’t honestly believe their training regime covers up to two hours of this kind of physical movement. I am not saying they aren’t training for many hours, but watch the onboards and see what body parts are moving, and realize that each muscle trains independently, even when you can cover multiple muscles in one movement. It will be interesting to hear Lewis (since his is a radio that gets played a lot, and he’s very vocal about things he doesn’t like) talk about it over the course of the race.

      1. @neiana IIRC there were aero-related issues in the distant past caused by engine packaging, when there were many different engine configurations, i.e. some of the early turbos (e.g. BMW) had 4 upright cylinders, where others had flatter engines, which restricted the underfloor possibilities.
        But this year I think they are much more similar, and the packaging is more defined.
        But you are right that there seems to be a correlation, but IMHO it’s not causation, just a coincidence.

  9. @neiana – you think the porpoising is related to engines? Hmm? at the moment I don’t see it on the Rbr unless they are compromising performance somewhere but are still able to perform well. Still think Ferrari has the best car and once they have a permanent solution will be the team to beat, I think they are close… will be more interesting once the first wave of upgrades come.

    Mercs are not going to be challenging for anything this season as Ferrari and Rbr are already too far ahead.

    1. You are on my shunlist now Pierre, you did not deliver when it counted

    2. @icarby I have been trying to suss out since the start of testing whatever level of porpoising RBR might have. And the thing is, from what little has been mentioned about it, including video evidence or lack thereof, it seems to me they simply have barely had any, and when they did they were quickly able to dial it out. In other words, from my armchair it seems to me porpoising has been a non-issue at RBR and I think credit for that likely goes to Adrian Newey.

      Just from my own viewpoint (and it could just be wishful thinking) it does make me wonder if this might mean RBR is already starting off with a bit of an advantage in the development race, as Ferrari obviously still have porpoising as evidenced by yesterday’s footage, which to me might indicate still some compromising that has to take place at Ferrari, compromising that RBR needn’t worry about. I could be wrong of course and it could just be the case that RBR are having to stave off porpoising as well by not going towards certain settings, but anyway, it is relative, and relatively speaking I think RBR has suffered the least by far in terms of this issue.

      1. @robbie You are right as far as I can see – RBR have Adrian Newey – and that guy is a genuine genius.
        Just to be a bit contrarian, maybe RBR have now Max’ed out (see what I did there?) and that is why MV is complaining about tyres, DRS zones, etc. etc., while Ferrari maybe still have more potential, once they fix their bouncing issues. Don’t write off MB, also plenty of potential further down the field IMHO, especially with the new variable limits on CFD and wind tunnel time. K-Mag for WDC anyone?

        1. @biker56 Oh I think the likes of RBR and Ferrari and Mercedes et al have far from Max’ed out. They all have weight to lose and much to learn yet about these cars and tires. And as I have said I will never underestimate Mercedes but it just seems as though enough people that are more than just armchair experts are saying they have a long road ahead of them, and aren’t just a few tweaks away from finding some magic setup. Even if such a setup existed it might not still exist on a different day at a different track or even at the same track one day to the next.

  10. @robbie – they haven’t complained about it hardly as much as the other teams (RBR). But clearly both drivers have different issues with the Rbr car and I don’t think either driver have had that ‘perfect’ weekend yet, but probably too much to ask since we’re still at the start. But once they have the confidence and really push it we’ll know, they maybe the only team in that position.

    1. @icarby Yeah for sure it is early days and it is going to be a blast to see race after race what evolves and see where everyone is come mid-season. I think once they are back in Europe and as we are being told teams will be better able to bring ‘major’ planned upgrades, it will be so so interesting to see. As we’re being told much is revolving around taking some weight off the cars. In general with upgrades having to be so much better planned and integrated due to the budget caps, I’m sure some teams have more headaches than others in having to commit to certain new shapes of wings and floors etc etc in hopes that they picked the right ones and that they will work with everything else on the car.

  11. @robbie – absolutely, I don’t hold much for Mercedes at the moment I think they are in real trouble since they still need to solve porpoising and realise projected gains on the car which they technically can’t confirm until porpoising is fixed. If it doesn’t give them at least half a second they will be relying on things they can’t control.

    I think Ferrari and Rbr are in a really strong position. Hopefully McLaren can sort out their issues and join the party.

    1. @icarby It certainly would be unprecedented in this hybrid era for a customer of Mercedes’ pu to outdo the works factory team.

  12. My favorite qualifying moment was when the video showed Vettel’s pit crew having a can of soda as apparently it was snack time during Q1. Then there is a red flag and they cut back to Verrel’s crew trying to put the Humpty Dumpty Aston Martin together to get a run in.

    Hamilton is definitely holding up Russel. He doesn’t trust the car at all and his age is causing him to doubt everything. Driving on the edge is a young person’s sport.

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