the Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc He will start from first position on the grid for the second time this season after signing a masterful last lap in the qualifying session for the Australian Grand Prix Saturday. Leclerc, who won the season opener in Bahrain in March, stopped the clock in 1 minute 17.868 seconds, beating defending champion Red Bull, Max Verstappen, for 0.286 seconds. Far away from that dispute, the note of the day was given by Nicholas Latifi (Williams) and Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), protagonists of a ridiculous accident while driving at low speed …
The Mexican Sergio Pérez, Verstappen’s teammate at Red Bull, will occupy the third position on the grid, while Lando Norris will start from the second row with his McLaren after setting the fourth time. Lewis Hamiltonwho had won pole position in the last six Melbourne Grands Prix, was 0.957 seconds slower than Leclerc and will start fifth with Mercedes.
The brilliant driver of the Monegasque gave Ferrari its first pole position at Albert Park after that of Kimi Raikkonen in 2007. “I felt good. All the more so because it was a circuit where I’ve always had problems as a driver ”, said Leclerc. In Q3 I was able to give my best. I feel very good. Tomorrow we just have to get off to a good start and we hope to be able to keep the first position ”.
Leclerc is the first driver besides Lewis Hamilton to take pole position in Melbourne since 2014. The Scuderia has signed its first pole position on Australian soil since 2007, the year in which Kimi Raikkonen reached it. The Finn, already retired, offered Ferrari the last world championship title for drivers that year. Despite a blinding sun that several drivers complained about on the Albert Park circuit of the Australian city, the Monegasque ‘poleman’ shone with his own light by beating Verstappen’s Red Bull.
Speaking of this problem, Leclerc recounted the problems that the drivers had due to the impact of the sun. “ANDn my first lap in Q2, I took a big risk because I had no idea where the edge of the track was. I was just guessing because with the pace of the weekend you know more or less what you need to ride on each side, ”he told ‘Motorsport’ after qualifying.
“I really had no idea where the edge of the track was, and it was very complicated. So we opted for a darker visor. I think there were clouds around the first lap of Q3 so it was perfect.
Obviously the problem repeated itself in the third quarter: “At Turn 1 there was very poor visibility. But I don’t think anything can be done, even with the darkest visor it’s still not enough and the rest of the track would be dark where there were clouds.
At the inaugural Bahrain GP in mid-March, pole went to Leclerc, who the next day won the race against a Verstappen who had to retire with a mechanical problem just a few laps from the end. But the Dutchman responded two weeks later in Saudi Arabia, scoring his first win of the season despite a modest fourth place in qualifying.
Currently, Verstappen has so far described this weekend as “terrible”. “It is clear that we have not really solved the problem. We struggled a lot with the balance of the car and that doesn’t give us confidence to go forward, ”she explained.
Leclerc (45 points) is currently 12 points clear of his Spanish teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. (33) – who starts 9th Sunday – and 20 points clear of Verstappen (25).
The other Spaniard on the grid, Fernando Alonso, at the wheel of his Alpine, which had been in good shape in free practice, lost control of his car in the last qualifying session due to problems with the hydraulic system. Sunday will start 10th.
The ranking was marked by the clash between the single-seaters of the Canadians Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi in Q1. The situation arose when both were doing the warm-up lap: Latifi (Williams) came in at a slow pace and let his compatriot, who runs for Aston Martin, pass. When he noticed that Stoll wasn’t spinning at high speed either, he wanted to get back into position, but then Stroll spun and hit him, damaging Williams.
“I don’t understand what he’s doing! “Don’t look in the mirror! The car is wrecked, “Latifi told his mechanics at the time, as seen on the TV show. Williams the disaster did not end here: the other single-seater, the Alessandro Albon he was left on track due to an electrical or mechanical failure and was unable to return to the track.
Stroll, identified as responsible for the accident, had already had an accident when he hit a wall … Then he was sanctioned with three positions on the grid. Although he will have no impact since the Canadian was the last.
Subsequently, they both offered their opinions. “She tried to suddenly overtake me in a very embarrassing part of the circuit,” said Stroll after the accident. “The circuit turns right and then left, and I think what happened was very uncomfortable. Suddenly he was trying to overtake me and the circuit narrows as we made contact by turning right. So yes, a rather ridiculous incident. “
Latifi said it was “pretty clear” after watching the video who was the culprit. “I let him through because he was pushing to open a lap, or so they told me,” he said. “And then I saw that he had stopped the lap, so I wanted to continue with my warm-up lap and I went right next to him. There was a big gap and once I got over it, for whatever reason, he decided to shoot. I saw it in the video “.