Leclerc claims pole position for Australian GP over Verstappen

Robert Cianflone / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Charles Leclerc's electric start to the 2022 F1 season continued Saturday, as the Ferrari driver will start from pole position for the Australian Grand Prix.

It's Leclerc's second time starting at the front of the grid in three races, which bodes well for his chances Sunday. All three of his career wins have come from pole position. The 24-year-old hasn't finished higher than fifth in Melbourne in two previous races.

"The free practice sessions were quite messy for me, but in Q3, I managed to put everything together, so it feels great," Leclerc said. "I'm very happy to be on pole tomorrow."

Leclerc's pole position was briefly in peril when the stewards investigated him for driving too slowly during an in lap, but he was eventually cleared and will keep his spot up front.

"(Leclerc) started a lap that was intended to be a cool-down lap, not an in-lap, which would not be subject to the minimum time restriction of the regulation," the stewards said in a statement, according to Fergal Walsh of Motorsport Week.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez will start second and third, respectively.

"For me, this weekend so far has been all over the place," Verstappen said. "I'm happy to be second, but as a team, we want more."

Pos. Driver Team Time
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:17.868
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull +0.286
3 Sergio Perez Red Bull +0.372
4 Lando Norris McLaren +0.835
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.957
6 George Russell Mercedes +1.065
7 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +1.164
8 Esteban Ocon Alpine +1.193
9 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +1.540
10 Fernando Alonso Alpine ---
11 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Q2
12 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Q2
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Q2 
14 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Q2
15 Mick Schumacher Haas Q2
16 Alex Albon* Williams Q1
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas Q1
18 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Q1
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams Q1
20 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Q1

McLaren's Lando Norris starts fourth in what's been a resurgent weekend for the struggling driver. Entering the season with high aspirations, Norris finished 15th and seventh in the first two races.

Lewis Hamilton, who claimed pole position in the previous six Australian GPs, starts fifth after a positive session.

Fernando Alonso crashed out in Q3 on Turn 11, causing the second red flag of qualifying. The Alpine driver said he lost hydraulics and couldn't slow down before crashing into the wall.

Alex Albon qualified 16th, but he'll move down for the race due to a three-place grid penalty held over from the Saudi Arabia GP.

Q1 was also red-flagged after Nicholas Latifi and Lance Stroll collided.

Leclerc claims pole position for Australian GP over Verstappen
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