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Formula 1 Australian GP

F1 Australian GP Live Commentary and Updates – FP3 & Qualifying

Saturday's action from the third round of the 2023 Formula 1 season

After following Perez to the chequered flag two weeks ago, reigning world champion and Bahrain GP winner Max Verstappen holds a one point lead from his team-mate after snatching a valuable fastest lap point in Jeddah.

All eyes will be on what Red Bull’s rivals can do to halt their charge at Albert Park, a venue the Milton Keynes operation hasn’t tasted victory since Sebastian Vettel’s 2011 triumph.

Verstappen topped Friday's opening practice before Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso headed the field in a rain-affected FP2.  

Qualifying takes place on Saturday at 6:00am BST to decide the starting grid for the race on Sunday at 6:00am BST.

By: Haydn Cobb, Megan White, Stephen Lickorish, James Newbold

Summary
  • Verstappen takes pole for F1 Australian GP over Mercedes drivers Russell and Hamilton
  • Alonso to start fourth ahead of Sainz, defending event winner Leclerc 7th as Albon makes Q3 for Williams
  • Ocon, Tsunoda, Norris, Magnussen, De Vries eliminated in Q2
  • Perez out in Q1, locking up and sliding into the Turn 3 gravel before he'd set a time, along with Piastri, Zhou, Sargeant and Bottas
Leaderboard
1. Verstappen, Red Bull
2. Russell, Mercedes
3. Hamilton, Mercedes
4. Alonso, Aston Martin
5. Sainz, Ferrari
6. Stroll, Aston Martin
7. Leclerc, Ferrari
8. Albon, Williams
9. Gasly, Alpine
10. Hulkenberg, Haas
Status: Stopped
And that brings our live text coverage of Australian GP qualifying to a close. So, set your clocks for just before 6am UK time tomorrow, when we'll be back for what promises to be an intriguing race. Thanks for joining us and bye for now.
While there's jubilation at Mercedes, it's frustration for Ferrari as the scarlet cars end up just fifth and seventh in that one, with Sainz outpacing Leclerc. Given Perez's woes, this was a missed opportunity for them to climb further up the grid.
"I'm so happy with this!" adds a delighted Hamilton. "I'm really proud of the team - to be up on the two front rows is a dream for us. To be this close to Red Bull is incredible."
"I was a little bit disappointed we didn't get pole position!" says Russell as he admits the expectations changed when Mercedes's pace improved.
The Aston drivers are deep in conversation - perhaps they were hoping for more than fourth and sixth.
Russell is now cheerfully waving to the crowd, as he profits from Perez's error to take a front row spot.
"Not too shabby! I thought our car was one second off the pace!" says a delighted Russell about his front row, just two tenths slower than Verstappen.
So, behind that top four, it's Sainz, Stroll, Leclerc, Albon, Gasly and Hulkenberg completing the top 10.
Doesn't look like there will be any other improvements so it's Verstappen from Russell, Hamilton and then Alonso. No wonder Toto Wolff is smiling!
Russell goes up to second and closes to two tenths to Verstappen but the chequered flag is now out!
And Verstappen now shows what he's truly capable of! Close? No he's gone faster with a 1m16.732s to go half a second quicker.
Hamilton and Hulkenberg have been fighting for the same piece of track and it gets very close between the pair!
But, after some warm-up laps for others, Verstappen is on a flier now!
There's not much green on the timing screen - Leclerc does improve slightly but stays fifth.
Two minutes remain in this session and everyone is now out on track. Will there be one final twist in this qualifying hour and a bit?
Stroll improves to seventh as he runs out of kilter to the rest of the field.
The Ferraris have headed out earlier for their second run than the rest, keen to avoid any potential rain. However, because of his scruffy first lap, Verstappen is still in the pits and could get caught out here...
After these initial runs, the top five is separated by less than two tenths! Anything could happen in the rest of this session, especially with rain still predicted.
Verstappen is now back to the top! But it's only by nine thousandths of a second! This is unbelievably close in these cooler conditions.
Albon goes purple in the middle sector but the rest of the lap means it's just seventh for the Williams driver currently.
And now it's Hamilton to the top! Where did that come from? It's a 1m17.271s for the Briton.
Alonso does now improve and he goes fastest with a 1m17.303s. Game on!
Hulkenberg does go for it on his first lap and goes half a second slower, while replays show Verstappen also heavily clipped the kerb towards the end of his lap, which cost him further time.
Verstappen is lighting up the timing screen and it's a 1m17.578s for the sole Red Bull. But he did have a bit of a slide through Turn 3 and 4, so there is time to be found. Alonso and Leclerc, however, don't push on their first laps.
Leclerc, however, is told there could be some rain in the last three-four minutes of the session! So the pressure could well be on these early efforts.
Gasly and Albon do also now join the fray so it's just Stroll staying in the pits for now.
Verstappen leads the drivers out of the pits - and there's the unusual sight of a queue for Q3! Everyone bar Gasly, Stroll and Albon immediately head out.
The weather radar is showing no noticeable rain in the coming session, although the cloudy skies do remain.