F1: Max Verstappen takes pole for Red Bull at Australian Grand Prix
MELBOURNE— Max Verstappen took pole position for Red Bull at the Formula One Australian Grand Prix on Saturday after team mate Sergio Perez came crashing back to earth with a brake failure that left him last on the grid.
Mercedes driver George Russell joins Verstappen on the front row for Sunday’s race at Albert Park after qualifying second ahead of team mate Lewis Hamilton.
Verstappen saved his best for late, roaring around the lakeside circuit in one minute and 16.732 seconds, over two-tenths of a second quicker than Russell.
“I think the last run was very good,” Verstappen said, celebrating his first pole at Albert Park.
“It all worked out in Q3.”
Hamilton was thrilled Mercedes had bridged the pace to Red Bull, who won both the opening races in the Middle East.
“I’m so happy with this,” he said. “I’m really proud of the team – to be up on the two front rows is a dream for us.
“To be this close to Red Bull is incredible.”
Perez, who endured a nightmare final practice earlier on Saturday, locked up braking into turn three during his first out lap in the opening session and beached himself in gravel, bringing his qualifying to a quick end.
Twice world champion Fernando Alonso will start fourth on the grid ahead of fifth-placed Carlos Sainz.
Sainz’s Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc will line up seventh behind sixth-placed Lance Stroll of Aston Martin.
Alex Albon will be eighth on the grid after a positive day for Williams, ahead of Alpine’s Pierre Gasly (ninth) and Haas’s Nico Hulkenberg.
Home fan hopes of a big race for McLaren’s local boy Oscar Piastri were dashed as he narrowly missed the cut into Q2. He will start 16th on the grid.