Verstappen on pole for Australian GP

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 01: Pole position qualifier Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit on April 01, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202304010214 // Usage for editorial use only //

The Qualifying session for the Australian Grand Prix was an interesting affair with Max Verstappen on pole. That may not be a surprise but it wasn’t a walk in the park as the real challenge was getting the tires into their prime operating window.

Most of the cars throughout all three sessions were making multiple passes and putting in the laps to find the performance window of the tire. What that meant is that a changing track, coupled with tires that were heating over several laps to find their optimum performance means a grid that is quite unique. It was all down to timing.

The more pleasing surprise was how fast Mercedes was with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton starting the race in 2nd and 3rd place respectively. The cool weather would suggest that the Mercs were able to find their tire window and it does make me wonder what their pace suggests about their ability to generate heat in cool temps vs their performance in hot weather and any potential tire overheating. I’m keen to see their gains in the next few races.

George, or Mr. Saturday, has bested his teammate in qualifying three races on the trot but the race is another story. One would expect that the Mercs may not be challenging Max’s Red Bull but can they maximize their starting positions to hold off the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso and the Ferrari duo behind them?

Qualifying Results:

1Max VerstappenRed Bull1m17.384s1m17.056s1m16.732s
2George RussellMercedes1m17.654s1m17.513s1m16.968s
3Lewis HamiltonMercedes1m17.689s1m17.551s1m17.104s
4Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-Mercedes1m17.832s1m17.283s1m17.139s
5Carlos SainzFerrari1m17.928s1m17.349s1m17.27s
6Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1m17.873s1m17.616s1m17.308s
7Charles LeclercFerrari1m18.218s1m17.39s1m17.369s
8Alex AlbonWilliams-Mercedes1m17.962s1m17.761s1m17.609s
9Pierre GaslyAlpine-Renault1m18.312s1m17.574s1m17.675s
10Nico HülkenbergHaas-Ferrari1m18.029s1m17.412s1m17.735s
11Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1m17.77s1m17.768s
12Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda RBPT1m18.471s1m18.099s
13Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1m18.243s1m18.119s
14Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1m18.159s1m18.129s
15Nyck de VriesAlphaTauri-Honda RBPT1m18.45s1m18.335s
16Oscar PiastriMcLaren-Mercedes1m18.517s
17Guanyu ZhouAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1m18.54s
18Logan SargeantWilliams-Mercedes1m18.557s
19Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1m18.714s
20Sergio PérezRed Bull
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