F1, Verstappen on pole also in Melbourne. Then a great Sainz in the front row


By John

Max Verstappen gets the hat trick and hits the third pole position in the third race of the season in Melbourne, the 35th of his career. But Ferrari is the protagonist until Q2, with a heroic Carlos Sainz and with Charles Leclerc aware of being able to give more. The verdict of the qualifying sessions for the Australian Grand Prix, held at dawn in Italy, is that tomorrow anything will be possible. The world champion's Red Bull will start again in front of everyone, forced to change the power unit after damaging his car in free practice on Friday, but the performance of the two Reds will push the Italian fans to set the alarm clock for dawn on Sunday. Carlos Sainz, who will start next to Verstappen on the grid, has so far been the protagonist of a great weekend, fresh from convalescence following surgery for appendicitis. «It was a really difficult couple of weeks, a few days in bed and the doubt as to whether I would be there or not. I managed to be there for a weekend and sit in the front row. I almost didn't believe it honestly, it was hard. I am very satisfied and happy. I'm not in perfect condition, the race will be long, but I think I can do it, and if we're at 100% we can win”, admitted the Spanish rider.

More disappointed was Charles Leclerc, always ahead in free practice and in the first part of qualifying and only fifth, but fourth on the grid after Sergio Perez's penalty. «We underestimated the power of the Red Bull in qualifying, but objectively I didn't maximize the car today. I lost the feeling with the car a bit in FP3 but I managed to do the lap, and in qualifying I was confident I would find it again but instead I lost it even more. The best thing we can do now is focus on tomorrow. Everything is possible, the race pace is not bad”, explained the Monegasque driver. Ferrari, therefore, closer to Red Bull. “They seem very fast, there's a bit of a question mark for tomorrow, but that makes things more fun, we'll find out,” admitted Verstappen himself. «I believe that tomorrow we will be able to fight on equal terms with the Ferraris and also with the others. The race will be long and perhaps the starting position will not be decisive”, added Perez, third with the other Red Bull, but penalized three positions for having obstructed Niko Hulkenberg during qualifying. Fourth time, and third place on the grid for Lando Norris' McLaren. Right at McLaren, Zak Brown has announced that he will remain CEO until 2030. Also in the Top Ten are Oscar Piastri, George Russell, Yuki Tsunoda, Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso. Surprisingly out in Q2 was Lewis Hamilton, pole holder on the Australian circuit (eight) and only eleventh today, his worst result in Australia since 2010, since then he had always qualified in the top five. “I was hoping that the weekend could go better, but obviously we're not in shape yet, in any case tomorrow is another day and we'll try again,” admitted the seven-time world champion. Logan Sargeant did not take to the track: yesterday his Williams teammate Alexander Albon had seriously damaged the bottom of his car, and the team decided to “sacrifice” the American driver, handing over his car to the Thai. There will therefore be 19 drivers on the starting grid tomorrow, at the start of the race which will start at 5am Italian time. Red Bull will try to confirm itself, Ferrari to achieve their first victory of the season. «Winning is always possible, we compete for that. We were ahead and we have to be optimistic, we will certainly never lift our foot”, promises Red team principal Frederic Vasseur.