A day for yellow and red in Melbourne

Yellow and red, especially the latter, were the dominant colours at the first day of the Australian Grand Prix. These are the colours associated with the Medium and Soft compounds which covered over 5000 kilometres across the two free practice sessions, with none of the 20 drivers opting to try the white-banded Hard.

Red is also the colour of the quickest car on track, Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari, the Monegasque setting the best time of the day (1’17”277) in the second session. He outpaced Max Verstappen (Red Bull, 1’17”658) and his own team-mate Carlos Sainz (1’17”707), the Spaniard back in action having had to miss the last two days of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, after undergoing an appendectomy.

Quickest in the first session was Lando Norris (McLaren), who stopped the clocks in 1’18”564, ahead of Verstappen (1’18”582) and George Russell (Mercedes, 1’18”597).

Red was also the colour of the flag that had to be waved to stop the first session after Alexander Albon (Williams) crashed. The Thai driver was unable to take part in the second hour of free practice because of the damage to his car. 


It was a typically warm and sunny late summer day in Melbourne, with the wind intensifying between the two sessions. The decision by teams and drivers not to use the Hard in either session is a clear indication that the C3 will be the preferred compound for the race. Furthermore, based on the data seen so far today, the gap between a one and a two-stop strategy seems to be decreasing, increasingly opening up the possibility of witnessing a mix of strategies that could therefore make for a very interesting, even spectacular Sunday afternoon.


“The day saw teams and drivers all go in the same direction in terms of what will be the preferred compound for the race, namely the Hard. It’s a completely predictable choice given that we decided to bring a trio of compounds one step softer than last season. We also expected the graining that was quite noticeable today on the Medium and Soft, as well as the significant track evolution from one session to the next, as demonstrated by Leclerc’s FP2 time being 1”3 quicker than the time set by Norris in FP1. Another particularity of this circuit, due to its characteristics, is that graining does not significantly improve as the track rubbers-in, something that we have seen in the past and more recently, since the track was resurfaced in 2022.”



In a qualifying session twice interrupted by red flags and featuring several off-track excursions, Dennis Hauger took pole position for Sunday’s Feature Race. MP Motorsport’s Norwegian driver set the fastest time right at the very end of the session, with a stupendous performance in the third sector, making him the only driver to dip below the 1’29” barrier in 1’28”694. Alongside him on the grid will be Italy’s Andrea Kimi Antonelli (Prema), second in 1’29”038, with Dutchman Richard Verschoor (Trident) third (1’29”173).

The Medium and Supersoft are the two compounds available in Melbourne, the third round of the season. So it’s a significant change from last year, when the Soft and Supersoft were used in Albert Park. Leaving out a step in between the compounds produces a bigger difference in performance and degradation, which should make for more interesting races, with more strategy options available.



The Formula 3 front row in qualifying was an all-Italian affair, with Leonardo Fornaroli (Trident, 1’33”044) outpacing Gabriele Minì (Prema) by just 19 thousandths of a second. Third quickest was the Scuderia Ferrari Driver Academy student Dino Beganovic, also driving for the Italian Prema team. The Swede was a net three tenths off pole.

The Medium is the compound chosen for this round, one step softer than last year, thus presenting the youngsters in this series with an additional challenge. On a track that is not particularly tough on tyres when it comes to lateral and longitudinal forces, Pirelli was able to bring a different compound, also down to the modifications it has introduced this year on the Hard and Medium tyres.


Founded in 1872, Pirelli is a company with deep Italian roots now recognised all over the world for its cutting-edge technology, capacity for innovation, and the quality of its products. Motorsport has always played an important part in Pirelli’s strategy, following the ‘race to road’ philosophy. The company has been engaged in motorsport for 117 years and today supplies tyres to more than 350 championships on both two and four wheels. Pirelli pays constant attention to the most efficient use of natural resources and energy, and will reach carbon neutrality by 2030.
Pirelli has been Global Tyre Partner of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship since 2011. The company also supplies championships including FIA Formula 2, FIA Formula 3, Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine, FIA World Rally Championship and GT World Challenge, alongside numerous national series.