FERRARI’s Charles Leclerc will start from pole at the Australian Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen second.
It was a dramatic end to qualifying as Fernando Alonso’s crash threatened to shake the general standings.
Leclerc, 24, had set the fastest time before the Spaniard’s crash but Verstappen then passed him and set the fastest time of the day.
The Frenchman had to react and did just that with a brilliant last lap, beating Verstappen by two hundredths of a second.
However, his teammate Carlos Sainz had a day to forget, finishing ninth after failing to time his first flying lap when the red flag was raised for Alonso’s crash just before Sainz crossed the finish line.
His compatriot Alonso will also be licking his wounds as he was 0.2s ahead of Leclerc’s first lap time after two sectors of his flying lap before his incident.
Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez was third, with the British F1 trio next behind him.
Landa Norris was fourth, the Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell followed in fifth and sixth.
Daniel Ricciardo is next seventh, Esteban Ocon eighth and Fernando Alonso tenth.
Leclerc’s pole is his second in three races this year and he was delighted with the result after admitting he’s struggled so far this weekend.
Leclerc tells Sky Sports: “It felt very good, very happy overall because it’s a track where I’ve always struggled in the past.
“I fought this weekend, I don’t know if you could see it from the outside.
But I made a lot of mistakes and was inconsistent and I really worked on that and tried to put in a good lap in Q3.
“In Q3 I managed to get everything together and I’m very happy to start from pole.”
Verstappen also struggled with his car this weekend and said after second place: “I didn’t feel good in the car all weekend.
“There wasn’t a lap in which I felt safe. Second place is good, but it’s not great if you can’t push yourself to the limit.”
He agreed Sky Sports: “We’ve been working hard all night, everyone at the factory has been working hard to figure out where we can go with the setup.
“I think we got the most out of the car today. I feel like my lap was a little bit more in the car.
“That’s positive, of course I’m disappointed too. I couldn’t extract that bit.
“If you push the car just a little bit more, she’s pretty mischievous. She’s like a viper or a rattlesnake.
“We just have to try and find a level of hopping that’s as hardcore as possible without shaking our brains out.”
https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/18215180/leclerc-verstappen-australian-grand-prix-hamilton/ Charles Leclerc takes pole and Max Verstappen is second at the Australian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton is fifth on the grid