In conditions where Red Bull cars are significantly faster than competitors, the question becomes relevant and who is the best among others. In qualifying for the third stage of the championship, the Mercedes drivers turned out to be such.
After the rain on… Friday
The rain on Friday, which forced the teams to change the program for the second free practice session, washed a layer of rubber residue from the track. For this reason, one of the problems for the drivers on Saturday morning was poor grip. Many have complained of slipping.
And the second problem was the traffic, as the teams tried to catch up with the previous day and at the same time prepare for qualifying. But the third session was not without its red flags. In its second half a large piece of Alpha Tauri carbon fiber had to be removed from the track. True, the break turned out to be short, and soon the cyclists were back on the track.
During the session, Sergio Pérez complained about the work of the brakes. The Red Bull driver failed to brake several times, he couldn’t really set the car up. There were problems in the McLaren Lando Norris. The Briton has only done 12 laps, closing the protocol. Towards the end of the free races, it rained again a bit, but the session ended with spots.
The best moment, unsurprisingly, is with Max Verstappen. The second is Fernando Alonso. In the third row is Esteban Ocon from Alpin.
Did Frenos Pérez deprive Red Bull of the third double?
The weather forecast for qualifying was for light rain. In the interval between the third practice session and qualifying, it rained a bit, but it ended quickly, and at the start of the main session on Saturday the track condition allowed us to go on slicks. All the riders decided to go with the softer compound.
Sergio Pérez was the first to leave the fight. The mechanics were unable to fix the problem with the brakes, and on his first attempt, the Mexican fell into a gravel trap in one of the corners, and the session was halted due to red flags. Red Bull’s third one-two is almost unreal as it’s quite difficult to overtake in Australia so you don’t have to wait for a breakthrough. But traditionally these are races and anything can happen.
The density of the results increased the cost of the slightest mistake. The third in a row proves there are no obvious outsiders, and the fight in the middle of the pack is close.
After the first segment, in addition to Pérez, Oscar Piastri (McLaren), Guanyu Zhou (Alfa Romeo), Logan Sargent (Williams) and Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) withdrew from the fight.
Williams surprised the fans
A year ago, it was hard to imagine that the Williams drivers would fight to get into the qualifying final. However, this year it is a reality. However, the Australian track favors the team. A year ago in Melbourne “Williams” opened his points account. This year the team already has one point, and Alex Albon, who reached the final of the standings, may well win more. Also, as a result, he will start from eighth place.
In the second segment, the Ferrari drivers tried to say their word. Even the day before, Charles Leclerc urged the fans not to expect miracles from the Scuderia at this point. All the updates are getting ready to race after spring break. But the drivers were able to please the fans: Sainz and Leclerc placed third and fourth after the Verstappen-Alonso pairing.
And Esteban Okon (Alpin), Yuki Tsunoda (AlfaTauri), Lando Norris (McLaren), Kevin Magnussen (Haas) and Nick de Vries (AlfaTauri) withdrew from the fight.
Duo “Mercedes” behind the champion
In the final of the qualification, the answer was made by “Mercedes”. For a while, Hamilton even led the session, but then Verstappen made it clear that Red Bull was ahead of everyone, though not as far as in the Middle East. At the first attempt, the Dutch driver edged Hamilton by 0.009 seconds. At this time, Alonso was third: 11 league titles in the top three places. It was reported from the pits that it could rain in the last minutes of qualifying, so the drivers went to the second attempt early. And Verstappen added significantly, driving a circle in 1 minute 16.732 seconds. Another driver who went for 1,17,000 was George Russell. After qualifying, he will notice that the car seemed to come to life and flew forward. On the second try, Hamilton got into traffic and lost to his teammate. Mercedes really isn’t as bad as Toto Wolf says. What he’s right about is that the Red Bull W14 isn’t really a competitor yet.
The fourth result of Fernando Alonso. They are followed by Carlos Sainz, Lance Stroll, Charles LeClair, Alex Albon, Pierre Gasly and Nico Hulkenberg.
The race starts on Sunday at 8 am Moscow time.