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Leclerc beats Verstappen to take Australian GP pole position


It truly does seem that the 2022 Formula 1 championship battle will be between Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen, with this year's two race winners to start on the front row at the third event of the year, the Australian Grand Prix.

It was a stop-start session in Melbourne, one that finished half an hour later than scheduled and with the sunset blinding the drivers, as multiple red flags interrupted the qualifying. Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi brought out the first red flag with a collision in Q1, while Fernando Alonso also crashed out after a car failure at the beginning of Q3.

When Q3 got going again, times improved on a cooler and cooler track and Verstappen temporarily put his Red Bull top. But, Leclerc was flying as the Dutchman did so and the Ferrari man went 0.286 seconds quicker when he came round and crossed the line.

Leclerc surprised by his pole position

"It felt good, even more since this is a track I have always struggled," he said afterwards.

"We really worked hard. The practice sessions were a bit messy, but in Q3 I managed to put everything together.

"The car is nice to drive. We were quite surprised with our pace in qualifying. Everything is possible tomorrow."

Sergio Perez posted the third-fastest time and Lando Norris the fourth-best, while Lewis Hamilton put in a good final lap to ensure he'll start fifth.

For Leclerc's Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz, it wasn't a good session as the red flag in Q3 denied him the chance to post a good lap time and then his engine took so long to start back up that he wasn't able to post a good time in the final moments of the session. That means the Spaniard will start ninth, just ahead of his countryman Alonso.

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