Teams' reaction after the hard-fought Melbourne qualifying

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Despite struggling with the balance of his car on Friday, Max Verstappen grabbed his third straight pole position in 2024 while Carlos Sainz made an impressive return following his recent surgery with a brilliant second place on the grid at the Australian Grand Prix. Here is what teams had to say after the crucial qualifying session in Melbourne.

Red Bull

Red Bull appeared to have a few balance issues in Melbourne, but F1's current dominant team bounced back when it really mattered. Max Verstappen was unable to top the first two qualifying sessions, but he became the only driver to dip below the 1m16m mark to secure his fourth consecutive pole position.

Sergio Perez qualified third, but he was handed a three-place grid penalty for impeding Nico Hulkenberg in the opening qualifying segment. As a result, the Mexican will start from sixth place at the 37th Australian Grand Prix.

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."


Ferrari's SF-24 was strong in the opening two rounds in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and the high- and medium-speed corners of the Albert Park circuit seems to highlight the strengths of the Scuderia's 2024 car even more. Charles Leclerc topped Free Practice 2 while Carlos Sainz set the benchmark in final practice. However, qualifying did not pan out the way the Scuderia hoped for.

Sainz was able to take second on the grid for tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix which is an impressive result after his health issues in Jeddah. Leclerc failed to deliver on his last qualifying lap. The Monegasque stated that a last-minute front wing tweak changed the balance of the car which led to his crucial mistake on his last hot lap.

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."


McLaren delivered their best qualifying performance so far this season with Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri haven taken 4th and 6th on the grid. Both driver will move up a place on the grid thanks to the three-place grid drop for Sergio Perez.

Team Principal Andrea Stella stated that the improved performance was down to the characteristic of the Albert Park circuit that features more high- and medium-speed corners than Bahrain and Jeddah. Moreover, there are fewer low-speed turns and long straights that have been a weakness for McLaren since the start of last season.

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.”


Mercedes' performance has been extremely difficult to read so far this season. The Brackley-based outfit appeared to struggle with extreme balance issues during the three days of pre-season testing to then turn up in the opening round and display encouraging speed.

In Jeddah, the W15 showed flashes of great performance, but this pace faded in qualifying and the race. The situation has been similar so far in Melbourne with the two cars having posted good lap times in FP1 and FP3, but George Russell and Lewis Hamilton dropped down the order in the crucial qualifying session.

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."


The two garages of the Visa Cash RB team endured very different fortunes in today's qualifying. Yuki Tsunoda excelled in every segment, getting himself into Q3 and taking P8 for the 37th Australian Grand Prix.

On the other side of the garage, Daniel Ricciardo failed to deliver in front of his home crowd. The Australian posted a time that would have been good enough to earn the progression into Q2, but he had his best lap time deleted for exceeding track limits.

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!”

Aston Martin

Having excelled in qualifying configuration in Manama and Jeddah, Fernando Alonso has been very inconsistent in Melbourne so far. The Spaniard had a huge moment in Free Practice 1 and also on his first hot lap in the last qualifying segment which is unusual from him. The two-time world champion conceded that he did not have the right confidence in the car with the wind also having made things difficult for Aston Martin.

Lance Stroll appeared to have better speed than in the opening two rounds of the season, but he also made a crucial mistake on his final lap which means that he will form the 5th row on the grid with his team-mate.

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.”


Williams have had an unusual and very tough weekend. Alexander Albon crashed out in Free Practice 1 with the chassis of his car suffering significant damage. Without a spare chassis, the Grove-based squad has elected to withdraw Logan Sargeant from the Melbourne round in order to maximize their chances this weekend.

It meant that Albon has taken over Sargeant's car from the third practice onwards, and the Thai driver did not fail to impress, having taken 12th on the grid.

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."

Kick Sauber

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.”


Having performed brilliantly in the opening two qualifying sessions in Bahrain and Jeddah, Nico Hulkenberg was knocked out in Q1. The German driver was help up by Perez on his first hot lap while he was unable to deliver a clean lap on his second fresh set of softs.

Kevin Magnussen took 14th with a lap that was four tenths of a second shy of what was needed for Q3. The Dane driver is still hopeful that his car could perform better in the race that might involve careful tyre management.

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.”


Alpine has endured a difficult start to its season, having been the slowest team so far this season. However, the Albert Park circuit appears to favour the Anglo-French manufacturer's car which Esteban Ocon was able to capitalize on. The one-time race winner managed to get himself into Q2 to take 15th while his team-mate Gasly will line up in P17 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.”