F1 Australian Grand Prix 2024 Qualifying highlights: Verstappen on pole position

Tune in for the 2024 Australian Grand Prix qualifying session live from Albert Park, as teams and drivers vie for pole position

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Welcome to this Total-Motorsport.com blog for Qualifying at the 2024 Australian Grand Prix, coming to you directly from the paddock at the Albert Park Circuit. As the Formula 1 season continues Down Under, join us for real-time updates, expert commentary, and behind-the-scenes insights into every thrilling moment of the action from Melbourne

McLaren driver Lando Norris was fastest in FP1, with Ferrari‘s Charles Leclerc holding a large advantage over Max Verstappen in FP2 and then pipping the Red Bull driver in FP3, giving the Scuderia hope of a potential pole position at Albert Park.

Logan Sargeant won’t take part in the rest of the Australian GP weekend, as his chassis was given to Williams teammate Alex Albon after the Thai driver wrecked his car in FP1 with the team failing to bring a spare chassis to Melbourne.

Join our live blog for the 2024 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Australian GP 2024 Qualifying – News and highlights


Your qualifying report for the 2024 Australian GP

Max Verstappen took pole again but it wasn’t easy, so how did he do it?

Your qualifying results for the 2024 Australian GP

It’s Verstappen on pole once again, in a familiar story in the last three years, but who else qualified where?

Sergio Perez left lamenting on what might’ve been…

Perez hasn’t really been far off the pace of his teammate and the Ferrari’s all weekend as he continues a strong start to the season in terms of potential.

But once again, his execution wasn’t quite there and he didn’t maximise what he could have done in Q3 meaning he will start Sunday’s race from third.

Here’s what he thinks as he spoke to F1 media.

“There was a bit more in it. My first sector was not great, especially Turn One. On my final lap, I didn’t hook the whole combination which straight away is a tenth or tenth and a half.

“But, I’m happy given I think how we have been during the weekend. 

“I think tomorrow we have a fight on our hands with the Ferraris and the rest of the field. Degradation is going to be very high, so starting position is not as relevant at the moment.”

Sainz reflects upon on-track and off-track tough battle

Just two weeks ago, Carlos Sainz had to withdraw from the Saudi Arabian GP after being diagnosed with appendicitis and undergoing surgery.

Since then it’s been about recovery and people probably didn’t expect him to challenge Leclerc this well, this quickly but that’s what he’s done as he lines up second for Sunday’s race.

Carlos Sainz to F1 media:

“It’s been a tough couple weeks, a lot of days in bed waiting for this moment to see if I could be here today.

“To make it to this weekend and then to put it on the front row after leading through qualifying, I was almost not believing it, especially after how tough it’s been.

“But very happy to be here, very happy to be challenging the Red Bulls this weekend.”

Verstappen reacts to third straight pole

On pole in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and now Australia, Max Verstappen continues to impress in 2024 as he maximises all of the opportunities coming his way.

Here’s what he said to F1 media:

“A bit unexpected today in qualifying but very happy with Q3. Both of those laps felt very nice and it was enjoyable.

“A bit of a tricky weekend so far but we managed to be there at the end, so very happy with that.”

VERSTAPPEN ON POLE FOR THE 2024 AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX

In the tight fight between Ferrari and Red Bull all weekend, Max Verstappen prevails as he delivers a great lap to improve on his time by a tenth.

He’s the only driver to dip into the 1:15s as he posted a 1:15.915 to take pole by a comfortable 0.270 ahead of Carlos Sainz.

Then came Sergio Perez, Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc, Oscar Piastri, George Russell, Yuki Tsunoda, Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso.

Stroll goes 8th

Stroll is 1.1 seconds off Verstappen’s pole time after he suffered a big snap and had to correct the car in the middle of the sudden left-right corners after DRS zone 3.

That definitely cost him a lot of time as it would have hurt him all the way down the back straight too.

Great news for RB with Yuki Tsunoda is in 9th

The team that have drawn a lot of inspiration from Red Bull’s 2023 car seem to have a good package around this track and it’s rewarding Yuki Tsunoda as he is eighth at the moment, 1.3 seconds off the pole time.

If he can convert qualifying into a race result then he could have a sensational weekend.

First runs complete: Verstappen leads Sainz leads Leclerc

Max Verstappen sets a purple Sector 1 and Sector 3 and takes provisional pole with a 1:16.048 to lead Carlos Sainz by 0.283 and Charles Leclerc by 0.387 and Sergio Perez by 0.410.

The chasing trio will have some work to do if they want to get pole. Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri ask their floors to be checked for damage after going through the wars at the Albert Park Circuit.

Q3 begins! Who will take pole position for the Australian Grand Prix?

One person not in that fight is Lewis Hamilton after he was knocked out in the second part of qualifying but anyway, the fight appears to be between Ferrari and Red Bull with Carlos Sainz possessing an early edge.

If Sainz can take pole just two weeks after abdominal surgery, that’s a great effort as he fights for his F1 future.

Hamilton’s Ferrari decision was spot on

The second year of Fred Vasseur’s reign is seeing Ferrari challenge Red Bull after just three races whilst Mercedes are simply nowhere.

Onboards show understeer as a common problem for Hamilton before random snaps of oversteer, leaving the British racer fighting with an unpredictable and slow car.

If you showed someone the last three years of that team and then told them they won eight straight constructors’ championships, right now they would laugh at you.

HAMILTON OUT OF QUALIFYING

Out in the second part of qualifying are: Esteban Ocon, Kevin Magnussen, Valtteri Bottas, Alex Albon and Lewis Hamilton!

Hamilton didn’t seem to leave much time on the table in his Mercedes as he is knocked out of qualifying with a gap of 0.059 to George Russell but it isn’t enough!

A sensational lap by Yuki Tsunoda briefly knocks Lance Stroll into the bottom five only for the Canadian and hit back to go eighth fastest and in the process the Aston Martin eliminates one of the works Mercedes.

That’s an embarrassing moment for the Silver Arrows who continue to struggle with their W15.

Sainz takes top spot

Ferrari continue to show that they can go blow to blow with Red Bull as the two motorsport giants slug it out for pole position for the Australian Grand Prix.

Sainz sets a 1:16.189, which is 0.198 quicker than Verstappen’s time with Leclerc not too far behind in third.

Verstappen sets the early pace

Max Verstappen slaps on a new set of soft tyres and sets the benchmark by posting a 1:16.387 to lead Oscar Piastri by 0.214 and Carlos Sainz by 0.284.

Both Mercedes drivers are looking as though they really have to wring that car’s neck to find any decent time as they go 7th with George Russell and 8th with Lewis Hamilton. FP3 seems a long time ago.

Currently in the bottom five are Esteban Ocon, Valtteri Bottas, Kevin Magnussen, Yuki Tsunoda and Alex Albon – and based on the balance of the opening races, that’s probably how it will stay too.

The second part of qualifying begins: Remember we have no Ricciardo

The Australian driver had his lap-time deleted in what his team principal described as an unfortunate moment for the 34-year-old RB driver.

“It’s very difficult to swallow but that’s the way it is,” Laurent Mekies said to Sky Sports F1. “Daniel was doing a very good job, probably his best lap so far and more than enough to get into Q2.

“He was a bit wide in Turn 5 and by a few centimetres we are off track.”

We also lost Zhou, Gasly and Hulkenberg.

Ricciardo OUT of qualifying!

Out in the first part of qualifying are: Zhou, Ricciardo, Gasly and Hulkenberg.

Daniel Ricciardo was warned by Helmut Marko to up his game in qualifying and he fails to do so as his lap-time is deleted relegating him to 18th on the grid for his home race!

Zhou Guanyu is also out for Sauber after suffering front-wing damage on his lap. Hard luck for the Chinese racer.

Carlos Sainz topped Q1 with a 1:16.731 ahead of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen by less than a tenth in tight fight at the front.

What a lap Alex Albon!

The Williams driver delivers a fantastic lap to move his car up into 5th. The Thai-Brit driver should be safely into Q2 with that. He’s 0.399 off Carlos Sainz’s fastest time.

George Russell criticises Mercedes brakes

Both Mercedes drivers had less than fond things to say about the brakes in FP1 and it appears as though it’s still affecting George Russell as he complains to his engineer.

Russell is currently 10th with five minutes to go.

Pierre Gasly noted by Race Control

Alpine have a terrible package that doesn’t appear to have much hope right now and it’s not even looking good as they exit the pit lane as Pierre Gasly is flagged for prematurely crossing the white line at the exit.

That would be a slam dunk telling off.

The state of play after the first few runs

Fernando Alonso is a shock as he goes top of the timing charts with a 1:16.991, ahead of Max Verstappen by a cool 0.230. Then comes Leclerc, Perez, Piastri and Norris.

Currently in trouble are Ocon, Gasly, Russell and Zhou, who need to improve to avoid elimination.

Sergio Perez is in trouble…

Sergio Perez has been noted for impeding by Race Control as he blocked Nico Hulkenberg.

That could be a three-place grid penalty if the stewards find him to be at fault.

The incident will be investigated AFTER the session ends.

Albon almost loses it already

As he comes to the rapid left-right combination at the end of the third significant straight and DRS zone, Albon has a nasty snap on his Williams car but manages to hold it together.

That could’ve been very messy otherwise, but for now he gets away with his Williams intact and a lap time deleted.

QUALIFYING BEGINS

We have already lost one driver as Logan Sargeant will not compete in the session after giving his car to Alex Albon, who is the first car out on track.

He has 16 minutes to prove whether he can make up for his FP1 crash.

How does qualifying work?

Drivers will have approximately 15 minutes to set their fastest lap and the quickest drivers will progress to the next phase of the session, whilst the slowest five will be eliminated until 10 remain.

The 10 will then be able to battle it out for pole position, where they will start the race on Sunday from.

Out in Q1: 20th-16th

Out in Q2: 15th-11th

Battle for pole: 10th-fastest driver.

In a quick circuit such as Melbourne, watch out for impeding as drivers come swiftly on blind, high speed corners. Impeding can earn grid penalties for the race tomorrow meaning drivers start lower down.

ICYMI: Sargeant is OUT of the weekend

For the second race weekend in a row, a driver has had to skip qualifying and the race for reasons out of their control.

Last time it was Carlos Sainz and this time it is Logan Sargeant, as the American had to surrender his car and chassis to Alex Albon after Albon shunted at Turn 7 for Williams.

Sargeant described it as the toughest moment of his career.

ICYMI: Free Practice 3 report

Read all about what happened in the final practice session of the weekend so you’re completely clued up as we head into qualifying in TEN minutes!

Can Mercedes get involved in the scrap for pole?

For all of the weekend, the Silver Arrows have been lost in the wilderness. Especially Lewis Hamilton.

But then at the end of FP3 they showed they could have some one lap pace respectable enough to worry Red Bull and Ferrari as Hamilton finished within a tenth of Leclerc’s fastest time.

Can they steal a shock pole in Melbourne?

The story to watch in F1 Qualifying: Ferrari vs Red Bull

Lando Norris predicted a fight between Ferrari and Red Bull on Thursday and so far he has been spot on as the pair have been closely matched through all practice sessions.

At the end of FP3, Verstappen narrowly edged out Sainz before getting beaten by Leclerc. Will qualifying be a similar story?

Pirelli tyre preview for 2024 Australian GP | Pirelli
Pirelli tyre preview for 2024 Australian GP | Pirelli

Detailed 2024 Australian GP Session Times and Dates

The F1 season continues with the 2024 Australian Grand Prix. Below, find the complete schedule for the race weekend, including session times for viewers in the USA, the UK, Canada, as well as local time in Australia.

SessionDayAus. (AEDT)UK (GMT)US (ET)US (PT)
Practice 1Fri, Mar 2212:3001:3021:30*18:30*
Practice 2Fri, Mar 2216:0005:0001:0022:00*
Practice 3Sat, Mar 2312:3001:3021:30*18:30*
QualifyingSat, Mar 2316:0005:0001:0022:00
RaceSun, Mar 2415:0004:0000:0021:00*
*Previous Day
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