Max Verstappen held off a surprise Mercedes charge in Australian Grand Prix Qualifying to beat George Russell and Lewis Hamilton to pole position.
The reigning world champion became an overwhelming favourite for pole when his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez crashed out in Q1, but in challenging cool and windy conditions at Albert Park, Mercedes posed an unexpected challenge.
Hamilton was just nine thousandths of a second off Verstappen after the first set of runs in Q3, but the Dutchman was able to pull out a clear 0.2s advantage as he delivered a 1:16.732 in the closing moments.
It was Russell who was able to snatch a place on the front row, edging out Hamilton by further tenth and out-qualifying his seven-time world champion team-mate for the third time in as many races this season.
“I think the last run was very good,” Verstappen said. “The whole weekend has been very tough to get the tires ready to push straight away, but it worked out in Q3 and I am very happy with the lap and to be on pole position.
“I think we will have a good race car but it is tricky to keep the tyres alive so it will be an interesting race for sure.”
Fernando Alonso, who has finished on the podium behind Red Bull one-twos in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, was only able to finish fourth for Aston Martin, while his team-mate Lance Stroll was sixth.
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