Red Bull Racing: Verstappen claims third consecutive pole as Pérez hit with grid penalty in Australia

    Image Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

    Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez will start the Australian Grand Prix in P1 and P6 respectively after the latter suffered a grid penalty.

    Verstappen, the reigning and three-time World Champion, continued his perfect start to the 2024 season by claiming a third consecutive pole position in qualifying in as many races, with no other driver yet to begin a race there this year.

    There was a general belief up and down the pitlane that Ferrari may have enough pace to steal away the top spot, but Verstappen was able to squeeze everything he could out of his RB20 and land his 35th career podium with a time of 1:15.915.

    This put the Dutchman 0.270 seconds ahead of Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, who claimed the second spot on the front row. Despite claiming yet another podium, Verstappen did not feel as comfortable with the car's setup as he had in the previous two races, commenting on it in post-race interviews.

    He said: "It was tricky for me all weekend to get the car in a good window. We kept on making changes, some worked a bit some didn't, and even heading into qualifying in Q1 and Q2 I couldn't get it the way I liked it or would like it."

    "We kept on tinkering little things and in Q3 it finally clicked a little bit more, but that's still not a given that tomorrow's going to be good because it seems like Ferrari is very strong over one lap but in the long run it seems they can keep their tyres alive a bit better than others."

    He concluded: "It's a bit of a question mark for us tomorrow."

    For teammate Sergio Pérez, meanwhile, what should have been a solid qualifying result has turned to somewhat disappointment after he was handed a three-place grid penalty.

    The incident he was adjudged for came in Q1, where he impeded Haas F1 driver Nico Hülkenberg at Turn 13, with the German driver ultimately qualifying in P16.

    Although it was largely down to late radio communications from his team, Pérez has seen his original P3 qualifying slip away down to P6 as a result.

    Pérez posted a solid lap time of 1:16.274, only 0.089 seconds behind Sainz in second and 0.359 behind Verstappen, but now he will sit on the third row after the earlier incident.

    McLaren have arguably benefitted the most from this grid penalty, with Lando Norris bumped up to P3 and Oscar Piastri moving up to P5 in his home race. Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc will now start the race in P4.

    Speaking on social media after the race, Pérez commented: "I believe we had the potential for more, we couldn’t complete that first sector."

    "It’s a shame that we have to start from the third row because of a penalty. However, I think we can fight from there."

    He concluded: "The Australian fans are incredible, hope we can give them a great race."

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