Verstappen takes pole position in Australia ahead of Sainz and Pérez

MELBOURNE.- Max Verstappen He left no room for surprise on Saturday in Melbourne and achieved first position on the starting grid for Sunday's Australian Grand Prix. What is not so common is that Lewis Hamilton, who started from pole at Albert Park on eight occasions, did not advance to the last round of the qualifying session.

Verstappen, winner of the first two races of the season in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, will be accompanied on the front row of the grid by Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz, who returned to racing after an appendicitis operation.

Your partner in Red Bull, Mexican Sergio Pérez, who has accumulated two second places so far this season, managed to qualify third. But the stewards applied a three-place penalty to Pérez and he was relegated to sixth place for impeding Nico Hulkenberg.

Saturday was Verstappen's 35th pole position in F1.

“It's been a bit unexpected, but I'm very happy,” said Verstappen. “It's been a bit of a complicated weekend so far. (Ferrari) seems very fast, so tomorrow will be an unknown.” .

The biggest surprise of the day came from Hamilton's Mercedes, which could not advance from the second round in the session and will start from 11th position. It is his worst qualifying finish in Melbourne since 2010.

“The inconsistency of the car is something that really drives you crazy,” said the seven-time world champion, pointing to the wind that blew in the afternoon as a problem.

They strive to catch up with Red Bull:

“If we could find a way to find that sweet spot in the car and make it more, maybe we could be more competitive,†he added. “It's not a good feeling for everyone on the team, but we have to keep working.”

Sainz, whose contract with Ferrari expires at the end of the season, went from being in a hospital bed before the race in Saudi Arabia to the front row in Australia.

“It's been a tough couple of weeks, so I'm very happy to get to this weekend,” noted the Spanish driver. “I was a little rusty at the start, but I picked up speed and felt good in the car. “.

“I'm not going to lie, I'm not too comfortable (…) but I can do it,” he said about his recovery after the intervention. “Obviously, (there is) a lot of discomfort and strange sensations, but there is no pain.”

The Australian Daniel Ricciardo was eliminated in the first round for the first time in Albert Park after the race stewards annulled his fastest lap considering that he had exceeded the limits of the circuit and, in his first participation in the great his country's award since 2022, he will come out 18th.

Alex Albon qualified in 12th position, returning part of the faith placed in him by Williams, who stripped his teammate, the American Logan Sargeant, of his car to hand it over to him after his He suffered serious damage after crashing into a wall in training on Friday.