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What the teams said – Qualifying in Australia

Special Contributor

Becky Hart
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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: A view of the pitlane during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix

Red Bull

Red Bull looked to have their work cut out to even make the front row in Melbourne, such was the form of the Ferrari. But cometh the hour, cometh the superstar, Verstappen putting in a faultless lap when Q3 rolled around to grab pole by a healthy margin. Perez backed up his team mate superbly with P3, although he admitted to a mistake in the first corner that cost him the chance of a front row. However, the Mexican was also investigated for impeding Hulkenberg in Q1 and was subsequently hit with a three-place grid drop for the race, meaning he will start sixth.

READ MORE: Verstappen enjoys ‘unexpected’ pole in Australia as he predicts ‘very exciting’ race amid Ferrari threat

Max Verstappen, 1st, 1:15.915

“Even though it was a more difficult weekend, achieving pole position today was great. I didn’t really expect to make it on pole, but we kept on making steady improvements throughout qualifying and I felt able to push a little bit better. Over the weekend, we have been struggling with the graining and have had a lot of things to figure out, but we just needed to keep on fine tuning the car with the Team. The balance of the car got better throughout; as we went through the session it felt easier to manage and I'm very happy with the laps we did in Q3 and surprised myself. We obviously had all the information from Q1 and Q2 and I think we achieved two very good laps. It is a bit of an unknown tomorrow as it is always easy to make a mistake here and it is harder to manage the tyres. Although the weekend has been a bit tough for us and I don’t think tomorrow will be an easy race, to still be on pole with the difficulties that we had is something we can be very proud of."

Sergio Perez, 3rd, 1:16.274

“It was quite tricky out there; I think that soft tyre was making things very difficult for us and getting up to speed on that set is quite hard but in the end it really worked well and we were able to extract the maximum from the tyre. I didn’t get the maximum from my final lap and lost a tenth at turn one, I think P2 was achievable, but I am still pleased with P3, I am on the clean side of the grid and can fight from there. This is a good starting point, I am confident, I want to get a strong start and get Carlos off the line. The degradation is a lot higher than last year here, it will be a challenge with Ferrari and it will come down to strategy and management of the tyres. Hopefully we get the result we want, that would be very nice for the Team."

Christian Horner, Team Principal

"I really thought Ferrari had the upper hand today. But we delivered when it mattered on that last run and that's certainly the first time that we've actually managed to nail sector three. All throughout the weekend, including qualifying, we’ve been giving away either a tenth or a tenth and a half in sector three, but today we finally managed to get the balance right. Max did two great laps there, both of which were good enough for Pole position. Checo did equally well, delivering a great lap as well to put himself third on the grid, so overall a great performance from the Team today."

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: Pole position qualifier Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Albert Park Circuit on March 23, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Ferrari

Leclerc topped FP3 and looked to be the favourite for pole, but was outshone by his returning team mate. Sainz admitted to feeling sore after Friday practice, but he didn’t look out of shape in qualifying as he topped both Q1 and Q2 and looked the man to beat. The Spaniard didn’t have an answer to the might of Verstappen when Q3 rolled around but still drove a great lap to grab second on the grid. A mistake from Leclerc on his final run saw him abort, to wind up with fifth, though he will be elevated to fourth thanks to Perez's penalty.

Charles Leclerc, 5th, 1:16.435

"I just didn’t find the right feeling today, starting from FP3. In qualifying, the front wasn’t as strong as I wanted, so I went aggressive with the front wing on my last run and ultimately, it didn’t work out.

"With a good start, and if I get past Lando (Norris), we can focus on fighting the cars in front together with Carlos. The race is long and there are 4 DRS zones at this track, so overtaking is possible. Let’s see what we can bring home tomorrow."

Carlos Sainz, 2nd, 1:16.185

"From missing the race in Jeddah to this P2 in two weeks, it’s been an interesting journey to say the least! I’m very happy because coming to Australia I wasn’t even sure I was going to make it. We have managed to progress steadily session after session, knowing that the target was to arrive as prepared as possible for qualifying. I tried everything to get pole in the last lap but it’s impossible to be disappointed with today’s result given the circumstances. Hopefully the body holds on during the entire race. As long as I have no pain and with the extra motivation from today, I will fight to get a good result tomorrow."

Fred Vasseur, Team Principal

"P2 on the grid for Carlos is quite incredible when you consider that two weeks ago he was in hospital having surgery. But he had a mega recovery thanks to the people who looked after him. It won’t be easy for him tomorrow, but I’m sure that his determination will help him make up for any physical limitations. Charles gave it his best shot as usual. He wasn’t prepared to settle for anything less than pole but he was out of luck. However, he’s been quick all weekend so I expect him to move up the order in the race. In terms of our performance, we have been consistent front runners since the beginning of the weekend, but tomorrow’s race will be tricky, especially for the tyres as they are one step softer than last year, so limiting graining with careful management could make the difference in terms of race pace. And we know that here, other factors such as the Safety Car or the race being red flagged can often play a part and we must be ready to turn these situations to our advantage."

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: Carlos Sainz of Spain driving (55) the Ferrari SF-24 on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Albert Park Circuit on March 23, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

McLaren

Piastri looked the pick of the duo in final practice, as he had been yesterday. Even at the start of qualifying he looked the McLaren most in with a shout of disrupting things up front. But it wound up being Norris who managed to get on the second row, the Briton pulling out a brilliant lap at the end of Q3 to pip the Ferrari of Leclerc to fourth. Both McLaren drivers will be lifted up a position for the start of the race thanks to Perez's penalty.

READ MORE: Norris delighted with ‘better than expected’ qualifying in Australia after struggles to 'unlock myself'

Lando Norris, 4th, 1:16.315

“I’m happy with today. I think we made a good turnaround. I’ve been struggling a little bit all weekend with balance. We changed quite a bit going into today and made some good steps forward, so I’m now feeling much happier. I felt like I got a bit more comfortable with the car, and as soon as that happens, I can roll-out some speed. So, a big thanks to everyone here at track and back in Woking for their help overnight. A good day, a good position and hopefully we can transfer it into good points tomorrow.”

Oscar Piastri, 6th, 1:16.572

“P6 in quali. A decent session, I probably peaked a bit early! Felt like Q2 was very strong and then just didn’t quite replicate it in Q3. So, I’ve got mixed feelings. I think the car had good pace and I think we’ve shown that we’ve got good race pace, so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”

Andrea Stella, Team Principal

“A positive Qualifying session that puts both cars in good positions for tomorrow. We know degradation and race pace is going to be key tomorrow, but it is satisfying to be lining up P4 and P6 on a weekend where at times it seemed we were struggling a bit with pace. Praise to the team and the drivers that tuned and optimised the car in every single detail. Lando and Oscar put together strong laps with good progression across the session. Oscar lost a bit of rhythm in Q3, losing some time, but this didn’t have a big effect in terms of his position on the grid. Our attention now turns to tomorrow’s Grand Prix where we will aim to score good points in the race.”

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Albert Park Circuit on March 23, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Mercedes

After a tricky Friday, Mercedes seemed to find a better set-up come Saturday with both drivers looking strong in FP3. But that form deserted them in qualifying, Russell struggling to escape Q1 and neither driver lighting up the timing sheets. At least Russell managed to scrape into Q3, which was more than Hamilton could – the seven-time world champion winding up 11th after being pipped by Tsunoda’s RB. But once in the shootout, Russell only had one set of new tyres to utilise and couldn’t make an impression on the top three teams.

Lewis Hamilton, 11th, 1:16.960

"The car felt great in FP3. It was much improved from yesterday and we were right there at the front. Going into qualifying, the inconsistencies within the car showed up though, unfortunately. The wind typically picks up here in the afternoon and I think we suffered with that today, similarly to how we struggled in FP2. The car is on a knife’s edge, and it is difficult as a driver to work around these inconsistencies.

"It’s not a great feeling for anyone in the team at the moment but we will keep working away. George did a good job today to get the car into Q3. I’ll be focused on coming back tomorrow and trying to do a better job."

George Russell, 7th, 1:16.724

"It wasn’t the qualifying session we were hoping for today. It was challenging to get the tyres in the right window, and it is so tight out there so a few tenths can have a major impact. The car felt strong in FP3 but unfortunately that feeling didn’t quite translate into the afternoon.

"We know where we need to improve the car and that is in the high-speed corners. Unfortunately, there are a decent amount of those here in Melbourne, so this circuit is definitely not playing to our strengths. I do think we’ll be in a better place tomorrow though when everyone has the fuel in their car. There are also many unknowns heading into the race. Nobody has run the Hard tyre, and that will be the compound that is primarily in use throughout. We may also see some graining. I think we will see a more exciting race here than we usually see. And ultimately, it is the Grand Prix that counts."

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"It was an underwhelming qualifying session today, particularly as we were only a few tenths off the fastest time in FP3. The conditions were different between the sessions, and we suffered from that. We have a car that is difficult and small changes can cause it to be outside of the working window. There is no simple solution as it is about the complex interaction between all the constituent elements of the car.

"It is frustrating that we are still saying this, but we will continue to keep working on it. It is not because of a lack of trying that we are where we are, and we will push to get better. We will keep our heads down and work through this. The car has potential, as can be seen by our performance in FP3. It is tricky to consistently get it into this place though and improving that is what we are focused on doing."

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

"It felt like we'd made good progress overnight and the car was working well across FP3 this morning. However, that pace didn't seem to carry into qualifying and we finished a disappointing P7 and P11. The track was a little hotter and it was a little windier in qualifying, but that does not fully explain why the car was well behaved in one session and such a handful the next. The work to understand those issues will carry on in the background as we turn our focus to the race.

"We've hopefully improved the long run since Friday, but we need to be realistic as to what we can achieve from our starting positions. Managing the tyres is a challenge here. They can be fragile, but we will be a few laps in before we can start to see how we are performing in terms of degradation. It's also a race where the strategy is normally dictated by incidents on track. We'll be on our toes and hopefully we can still take away a decent number of points."

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: George Russell of Great Britain driving the (63) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W15 on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Albert Park Circuit on March 23, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

RB

Ricciardo looked to have done enough to make it to Q2, but his last lap time was deleted for exceeding track limits which dropped him back down to P18. That marked his first Q1 exit in Melbourne, as his qualifying woes compared to his team mate continued. Speaking of Tsunoda, he made it all the way to Q3 and out-shone a pair of Aston Martins on his way to a very assured P8 on the grid.

FACTS AND STATS: Ricciardo's first ever Q1 exit in Melbourne spoils the Australian's homecoming

Daniel Ricciardo, 18th, 1:18.085

“I knew in Turn 4 I was sliding and fighting to put the car on the limit, and in that lap, I washed a little bit wider. I knew I used more kerb than I wanted on the exit, but I wasn’t sure whether it would be off track or not. I had already forgotten about it by Turn 5 and 6 until I came into the garage and Pierre told me the lap was deleted. The team put in a big effort after the weekend in Saudi and we also brought some new parts here which looked better. When I crossed the line, I felt like I gave it all I had and got all I could out of it. I was happy with the lap but I’m a little skeptical because of where we are in terms of the stopwatch, as we were still slow with that lap. I have done enough laps in quali over the years to know where I am, and I think we’re still missing some things. We’ve been facing some struggles all weekend, but it’s not anything in particular; I feel the car and I’m comfortable with it, with the balance and the braking and that's why the grid position is really painful. Tomorrow will be a long race, probably it’s a two-stop one, so perhaps this will give us a bit more opportunities. I feel like I’ve got a little bit of my anger out of something, so probably something in my driver room will get broken and then I’ll feel better."

Yuki Tsunoda, 8th, 1:16.788

"I’m very happy with the performance of the team and myself. Definitely a big credit to them for giving me a very consistent car throughout the weekend. It’s been easier to adapt and build confidence in every session, so I definitely feel like I had a clean lap, was able to squeeze a few milliseconds from each corner, and maximised the performance. I didn’t expect P8, and especially Q3 after seeing Williams and other teams find more time in Q1, but I’m very happy; it’s the highest qualifying position this season and reflects the hard work of the team. Daniel was also looking quick so it’s a bit of a shame what happened, but let’s see how it goes tomorrow. It won’t be easy, but we aim to have a clean race, do as much as we can, and score points!”

Alan Permane, Racing Director

“A bittersweet day for us today. Of course, we’re super excited and happy for Yuki to be well into Q3. Qualifying eighth is amazing and a testament to the hard work the team has been putting in through the winter, bringing updates to this car already. A real shame for Daniel as he was right there with Yuki in Q1. To just go outside the track a little bit, of course, the rules are the rules, and he has to lose the lap, but he was right there so there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t have gone to Q3 with Yuki.”

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: Yuki Tsunoda of Scuderia Visa Cash App RB during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Albert Park Circuit on March 23, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

Aston Martin

Aston Martin had both cars solidly in the top 10 in practice, and expected likewise in qualifying. But while both made it to Q3, it didn’t go to plan once there. Alonso aborted his first flying run after running wide through the gravel, while Stroll went for just the one lap as he only had one set of new tyres. His was a scrappy one but it was better than Alonso could manage, as he made more mistakes once he returned to the track having had his floor checked for damage.

Fernando Alonso, 10th, 1:17.552

“Getting both cars into Q3 was more or less what we expected today. My first lap in Q3 wasn’t great: I went off into the gravel at Turn Six. My mistake. So, on my final push-lap, I didn’t really have full confidence in the car. It was tricky. I feel we are a little bit less competitive than we were in Jeddah. The car was sliding; a little sensitive in the wind; lacking consistency. But it’s the same for everybody. Still, we need to find more pace. There will be lots going on tomorrow. It’s not going to be an easy race for the tyres – graining will be a concern for everybody – so let’s see if we can manage them better than the others. We want to get both cars home in the points tomorrow.”

Lance Stroll, 9th, 1:17.072

“We had strong Q1 and Q2 sessions today: the car was performing well and I found a decent rhythm. I then had a bit of a moment at Turn Nine in Q3 and lost three or four tenths. It had been a good lap up until then, so I think we could have been looking at a couple of positions higher up if it hadn’t been for that wobble. Tomorrow is going to be a high-degradation race, so I think it’s all about managing tyres. We have a good race car and it’s a fun track to drive so strong points will be the target tomorrow.”

Mike Krack, Team Principal

"We achieved the prime objective of getting both cars into Q3, which sets us up for a strong race tomorrow, but we could have done better than P9 and P10 today. In tricky and windy track conditions, Lance had a moment through Turn Nine on his best flying lap in Q3, while Fernando’s final effort was impacted by floor damage. We will work hard to ensure we convert these positions into points on Sunday.”

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) Aston Martin AMR24 Mercedes on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Albert Park Circuit on March 23, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mike Owen - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Williams

With just the one car running, the pressure was on Albon to deliver. A mistake on his first flying run in Q1 didn’t prove costly, as he made Q2 with ease in the end. But he couldn’t do enough to make it any further as his tyres began to overheat, eventually pitting before the chequered flag even came out. P12 isn’t a bad starting slot, but he has some fast cars ahead to overtake if he wants to justify his team’s decision and climb closer to the points.

READ MORE: Vowles insists he still ‘believes’ in Sargeant as he reveals American’s reaction after handing car to Albon

Alex Albon, 12th, 1:17.167

"No one wants to go racing like this, I don’t want to go racing like this. It’s one thing to make a mistake in FP1 and then back it up and try and deliver in Qualifying but to be in this situation, I take that responsibility on, and the significance is not lost on me. It’s tough but now the only thing I can do is focus on my job, put it behind me and treat it like a normal weekend. Obviously, I’m a session down, but that’s all I could do and so far, I think we’ve done a good job. The ultimate pay back I can give to the team and Logan is to now go fighting for points."

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

"It’s a huge disappointment for the team to be fielding only a single car today and this is a situation that must not happen again. Despite the disappointment and frustrations, the whole team pulled together last night and rebuilt the car that Logan had used on Friday with a new PU and gearbox ready for Alex to use today. It was a very impressive display from an extremely determined, proud, and professional group of people.

"Today was always going to be tricky for Alex but he carried the responsibility very well as he began to recover from missing FP2 yesterday. Helped significantly by Logan, who generously offered valuable and welcome advice, he was able to make good progress throughout FP3 and Q1. Q2 proved a little more difficult as he pushed to find the extra couple of tenths required to qualify for Q3.

"Tomorrow will be an interesting race with the Soft tyre compounds potentially allowing a variety of strategies to be competitive. Alex will need to quickly understand how to manage the tyres at high fuel having missed all high fuel running yesterday. It won’t be easy, but starting from P12 offers an opportunity to race the cars ahead and compete for the final points-scoring positions."

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Williams FW46 Mercedes on track during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Albert Park Circuit on March 23, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Kick Sauber

Bottas escaped Q1 for the first time this season, winding up 13th in an encouraging display. But his team mate couldn’t follow him through. Zhou managed to clip the kerbs with his front wing, which subsequently broke off on the straight. That damage wrecked his final flying run and he had to except another Q1 exit.

Valtteri Bottas, 13th, 1:17.340

“Making it into Q2 for the first time this season is surely a positive – especially in Australia, a circuit where track position is crucial. Starting closer to the top ten tomorrow should allow us to be in the battle to hopefully score a point or two, as we know we can be fighting with the cars around us. Generally, I feel like we’ve made a small step forward as a team and, given that the field is quite tight, even slight improvements can make a big difference. The reprofiled front wing definitely helped with the car balance and grip and we’ve seen an overall better performance compared to the previous two races. I’m looking forward to racing in front of a fantastic crowd tomorrow – it’s great to feel all the love and support, which gives me quite a boost. Melbourne is always a fantastic race that can be quite action-packed; I’ll give it my all to make the fans happy and put a great performance together.”

Zhou Guanyu, 19th, 1:18.188

"Today’s qualifying has been a difficult one for me: my last lap was going quite well, but then I felt a strong loss of downforce in the last sector before realising that I lost part of my front wing. It’s quite unfortunate, as I feel I would have comfortably made it into Q2; now I’ll have to make up more than expected during tomorrow’s race to be up there fighting for points. While my last qualifying sessions haven’t been the luckiest ones, our race pace has felt quite good, and you never know what’s going to happen at this track. I am looking forward to racing in front of a great crowd and hopefully climb up the order.”

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative

“Today, we can reflect on a better qualifying performance for the team. We were able to enter Q2 with one car, which more accurately reflects the value of our current technical package compared to our previous outings. We had seen this pace go unrealised in the first couple of qualifying sessions this year, but today Valtteri confirmed our value with a well-executed performance: he did no mistakes and P13 is the result of this. Unfortunately, Zhou saw his qualifying effort scuppered by damage to his front wing: he touched the high kerb at the exit of turn ten which was enough to break the wing’s main plane and ruin his final lap. His pace was very similar to Valtteri’s, and it wasn’t unreasonable to assume he could have also been in Q2. The team’s performance has been encouraging: there is still more to find in terms of set-up and we can extract more performance with some more fine-tuning. We were a bit on the back foot at the beginning of the weekend and we can hopefully start better and earlier in the future: but we’re in a position in which we can fight for the points without relying on the others’ misfortunes. Our focus now switches to tomorrow’s race: we know opportunities to break into the top ten are possible, but we need to be the ones ready to grab them. Tyres will play an important role, we have seen how graining, especially on the front axle, can affect race pace, so we will need to analyse our strategy and work as a team, preparing for all scenarios to maximise our opportunities.”

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: 13th placed qualifier Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber walks in the Pitlane during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Albert Park Circuit on March 23, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Haas

Not to be for Hulkenberg, who was frustrated after being impeded by Perez early on in Q1. It briefly looked like both Haas cars were heading out in Q1, but for Ricciardo’s late lap time deletion, which saved Magnussen’s blushes. The Dane therefore took part in Q2, but couldn’t get close to the top 10 on a day where tyre temperatures proved very tricky to manage.

Nico Hulkenberg, 16th, 1:17.976

“I got held up on my first run by Perez which wasn’t ideal, and then my second lap wasn’t clean. The lap was looking promising until the exit of Turn 7 when the wind changed and I lost a bunch of time just from that different wind direction. I then lost the front tyres for the rest of the lap and didn’t manage to improve enough. We’re all very close in the midfield so we’ll see, but the graining we’ve seen this weekend maybe offers some interesting options and potential tomorrow, so either way I’m looking forward to it.”

Kevin Magnussen, 14th, 1:17.427

“There were some good laps in qualifying today so I think that’s about where we are with the car, in qualifying at least. P14, it’s still within reach of the top 10 and I think we just have to have a clean race and hope that tyre degradation is on our side tomorrow. Degradation seemed okay, it’s whether our outright race pace is good enough, which is the bigger question. Hopefully we can tune it up for points as that’s what we’re here for.”

Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal

“It was a pretty tough qualifying. We struggle in high-speed, which we did, but also a couple of other corners like Turn 1 and 11 we struggled as well. The car is consistent but lacking overall grip, so I think the direction we need to develop the car is reasonably clear but unfortunately at this track with the balance indications, it just exposed our weakness a bit more.”

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany driving the (27) Haas F1 VF-24 Ferrari on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Albert Park Circuit on March 23, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Alpine

Alpine made progress in Australia, getting one car out of Q1 for the first time this season. But that was the only highlight in a tricky session for the French team. Gasly ran over the white pit lane exit line, which got sent to the stewards. Then Ocon clipped the wall and damaged his tyre, winding up lucky to be able to continue the session. It was messy, but it was progress – albeit limited to 15th and 17th on the grid.

Esteban Ocon, 15th, 1:17.697

“We’re progressing in the right direction, but we cannot be satisfied with the result and where we are right now. The car was the best it’s felt since the start of the season and we extracted the most we could. I pushed the limits today - and more - clipping the wall at the final corner on my first run in Q1. I was fortunate not to pick up any damage and we could turn the car around quickly. We kept pushing to the end and managed to progress through to the next part of Qualifying. That was really the maximum today, but we’re aware we still need to find some performance to make that next step. We’ve seen that a lot can happen here in the race, and as we’ve seen in the past, if you stay out of trouble, you can seize opportunities to move up the field.”

Pierre Gasly, 17th, 1:17.982

“We were having a fairly decent session up until my final run in Qualifying. It felt like we had a small downshift issue on the lap, so there’s certainly some frustration not to be in Q2 today. The laps across Q1 were good up until the lap, which matters most at the end. We are still far from where we want to be – some things are not going our way – and there is lots of analysis ahead of us. Still, we tried to maximise the car in tricky conditions and we just have to keep improving our understanding of what we have in our hands. It won’t be an easy race with tyre degradation. Maybe there will be some opportunities and we’ll give it our best for the best possible result.”

Bruno Famin, Team Principal

“Both drivers did their best today to extract the maximum from the car. We are struggling more on the Soft tyre and we must continue our understanding of our overall package to maximise performance. We expect better pace in tomorrow’s race on the harder compound tyres. It appears degradation is high at this circuit and strategy tomorrow will be key. We will give it our all and aim to capitalise on any opportunities that might arise to come away with a good team result.”

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Alpine F1 A524 Renault on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Albert Park Circuit on March 23, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Pirelli

Mario Isola, Motorsport Director

“It looked for a while as though everything was in place to produce a surprise, at least in qualifying, but in the end, Max Verstappen laid down the law once again. Well done to him for what was really a great performance in Q3. Clearly, he is yet again favourite to win tomorrow, but it will be interesting to see how the teams manage a race that still has some unknowns, especially in terms of strategy. In fact, from the data gathered over the past two days, it is highly likely to be a two-stop race with the Medium-Hard-Hard combination being the quickest. However, no one has run the hardest compound so far, so that’s another unknown, even if the C3 is the best understood of all five compounds homologated for this year. Managing graining will certainly be a key factor given that, at this track, the phenomenon does not improve much as the track gradually rubbers-in, as is the case at other circuits. Finally, one has to take into account the high probability of seeing the Safety Car on track, or even a red flag to mix things up. It means all the ingredients are there to make for an interesting and spectacular Grand Prix.”

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the best of the action from qualifying in Australia as Verstappen grabs pole

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