Verstappen on pole at Australian Grand Prix

Verstappen on pole at Australian Grand Prix

Red Bull's Formula One world champion Max Verstappen took pole position for the Australian Grand Prix on Saturday with Carlos Sainz qualifying alongside on the front row for Ferrari two weeks after undergoing surgery for appendicitis.

Max Verstappen took pole position for the Australian Grand Prix, his fourth consecutive pole, with Carlos Sainz alongside him. Lewis Hamilton struggled, starting 11th, while Daniel Ricciardo suffered a blow, starting 18th after his fastest lap was deleted. Alex Albon replaced Logan Sargeant in Williams and will start 12th.

Verstappen lapped in one minute, 15.915 seconds on a glorious afternoon at Albert Park, 0.27 seconds ahead of Sainz, to claim his third pole for the season and fourth in succession.

"It was a bit unexpected today in qualifying, but very happy with Q3," said the triple world champion. "It was a bit of a tricky weekend so far but we managed to be there at the end, so very happy with that.

"(Ferrari) seem very quick, also in the long runs. So a bit of a question mark tomorrow but that makes it exciting." mSainz said he was happy to be challenging the Red Bulls. "To make it to this weekend and then obviously to put it on the front row after leading through qualifying, I was almost not believing it, especially after how tough it’s been," he added.

It was a tough afternoon for Mercedes, with seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton suffering his worst qualifying at Albert Park in over a decade.

Hamilton failed to make the third session of qualifying (Q3) and will start 11th on the grid, his worst result at Albert Park since qualifying 11th in the 2010 race.

The Briton's time was nearly a second shy of Sainz's best (1:16.189) in Q2, and he has been outqualified in every race this season by team mate George Russell, who qualified seventh.

Lando Norris will start fourth on the grid, one ahead of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc. Only one Williams car featured in qualifying and will race on Sunday, with Alex Albon swapping into Logan Sargeant's car after wrecking his own during Friday practice.

The England-born Thai will start 12th on the grid. Home racer Daniel Ricciardo of RB was eliminated in Q1 in a massive blow and will start 18th after his fastest lap was deleted for going off-track at turn five.

"It’s very difficult to swallow but that’s the way it is," said RB team boss Laurent Mekies. "Daniel was doing a very good job, it was probably his best lap so far of the weekend."

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