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Verstappen takes pole position for Formula 1 Australian GP, ​​Carlos Sainz also on the front row – WTOP News

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Max Verstappen unsurprisingly secured pole position for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix. What was more surprising was the record…

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Max Verstappen unsurprisingly secured pole position for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix. Even more surprising was that record eight-time Australian pole winner Lewis Hamilton failed to make it to the final qualifying round on Saturday.

Verstappen, who won both races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia earlier in the season with his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez finishing second both times, will start on the front row for Sunday’s 58-lap race temporary street circuit in Albert Park.

Carlos Sainz, who returned from an appendectomy before the final race in Saudi Arabia, was second fastest, followed by Perez in third.

“It was a bit unexpected, but I’m very happy,” said Verstappen. “It’s been a bit of a difficult weekend so far. (Ferrari) seems to be very quick, so it’s a bit of a question mark for tomorrow.”

The biggest surprise of the day was Mercedes driver Hamilton. He didn’t make it further in the second qualifying.

Ferrari’s performance could have been affected here after Sainz said he was ready to return to the cockpit but was not feeling 100% after appendicitis surgery before the last race in Saudi Arabia.

But the Spanish driver, whose contract expires at the end of the season, emerged from a hospital bed a few weeks ago before Saudi Arabia joined the front row in Australia this weekend.

“It’s been a tough few weeks, so I’m very happy that I made it this weekend,” said Sainz. “I was a little rusty at the beginning, but I quickly got up to speed and feel good in the car.”

Sainz said he was still feeling the effects of the operation.

“I’m not going to lie, I’m not in my most comfortable state, but I can do it,” he said. “Of course a lot of discomfort and strange feelings, but no pain so I can apply pressure.”

It was an eventful week leading up to qualifying on Saturday. FIA Ethics Committee had acquitted its president Mohammed Ben Sulayemof “interference of any kind” at two F1 events last year, was quickly followed by a social media post from Susie Wolff, who is director of the all-female F1 Academy and is also married to Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff to whom she announced this she had filed a criminal complaint in French courts against the sports association over statements made about her in December.

This all happened against the backdrop of the ongoing excitement surrounding Red Bull Racing and its team boss Christian Horner.

Red Bull’s RB20 car secured perfect one-two finishes at the season-opening events in 2017 Bahrain And Saudi Arabia,

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AP Formula 1:

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