Charles Leclerc seals Ferrari's first pole position in Melbourne for 15 years ahead of Australian Grand Prix
Charles Leclerc helped Ferrari secure their first pole position at the Australian Grand Prix since Kimi Raikkonen tasted similar success in 2007. Fastest in second practice, the Monégasque driver continued his early-season form in Melbourne. Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez will be in hot pursuit of the Scuderia star, while McLaren’s Lando Norris took fourth ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
'We stayed calm at every moment' - Leclerc on claiming pole in Melbourne
Charles Leclerc took his second pole position of the season with a blistering performance at the Australian Grand Prix.
The Ferrari, quickest in second practice at Albert Park, topped the timing charts with a 1:17:868, with Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez unable to match the in-form Monegasque driver in Melbourne, with second and third-placed finishes respectively.
Perez’s final qualifying position is under investigation by the stewards, however, for an alleged failure to slow down under yellow flags during Q2.
Leclerc’s performance was enough to secure the Scuderia team’s first pole position at Albert Park since 2007, when Kimi Raikkonen topped qualifying and went on to win the race.
Elsewhere, McLaren’s Lando Norris took a respectable fourth ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who improved dramatically upon his performances in first and second practice and was just under a second behind pole-sitter Leclerc.
Meanwhile, an error on his final flying lap left Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz down in ninth on the grid.
Home favourite Daniel Ricciardo crossed the line seventh, one place behind Mercedes’ George Russell, in a qualifying session that was red-flagged on two occasions.
Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving (16) the Ferrari F1-75 on track at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit in Melbourne, Australia
Image credit: Getty Images
It was a late afternoon high on drama and excitement in Melbourne, with Williams’ Nicholas Latifi and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll - who himself crashed out during third practice - getting into a misunderstanding that saw the former spin into the barrier at high speed during Q1.
The incident gave Aston Martin time to repair the car of Stroll’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel, returning after missing the opening two races of the season due to Covid-19, but he was unable to qualify higher than 18th.
In Q3, Alpine were on course for a strong showing, but an apparent hydraulic failure saw Fernando Alonso send his car into the barrier, having recorded the quickest middle sector of any driver on his flying lap at the time.
It proved to be a disappointing day for the Spaniard, who had an outside chance of becoming the first driver aged over 40 to qualify on pole position since Nigel Mansell achieved the feat in Adelaide in 1994.
'Never struggled with the sun like that' - Leclerc after taking pole at Australian Grand Prix
Alonso’s team-mate Esteban Ocon qualified eighth, +1.193s adrift of Leclerc.