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Australian Grand Prix, qualifying: Verstappen UNSUSPENDED

Australian Grand Prix, qualifying: Verstappen UNSUSPENDED

Krisztián Márk Tóth |

The Australian Grand Prix continued with an early qualifying session that was full of surprises.

After the surprise Ferrari success in the third free practice session, the question was whether anyone could repeat it. After the first fast laps of Q1, the order was two Ferraris, two Red Bulls, two McLarens, but the track quickly improved. As a result, the composition of the leading pack remained unchanged, but the midfield saw some interesting shuffling. Carlos Sainz, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez were the front runners, while Nico Hülkenberg, Pierre Gasly, Daniel Ricciardo and Guanyu Zhou were the drop-outs.

The first moments of Q2 were all about Red Bull Racing, and this weekend for the first time it looked like RB would show some of their true strength. It was also down to the new compounds, of course, as Sainz was immediately back in the lead as soon as he was fitted with the fresh soft tyres. The Mercedes, which had been terrible up to that point, were also starting to come alive and it looked as if both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell could make Q3. In the end, Lewis Hamilton, along with Alexander Albon, Valtteri Bottas, Kevin Magnussen and Esteban Ocon, were the surprise absentees.

It was Q3, which promised to be the most exciting end to the season so far, and it's fair to say that we were not disappointed. For Red Bull fans, that is, as the Austrian team continued their familiar pull-it-and-loose-it game. New engine plus power or not, Verstappen's team still only showed their true potential in the final stages of qualifying, raising false hopes in the opposition camp. Carlos Sainz, who made an incredible comeback and did a sensational job all weekend, looked like a worthy challenger, but in the end he could not take the lead from Max Verstappen.