Sergio Perez has dropped from third to sixth on Sunday’s Australian GP grid after being penalised for blocking Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg in qualifying.

McLaren’s Lando Norris is promoted to third, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc takes over fourth, and the second McLaren of Oscar Piastri moves into fifth for his home Melbourne race ahead of the demoted Perez.

Perez’s Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen claimed pole position ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

Perez met with stewards after qualifying about the incident with Hulkenberg in Q1 and they subsequently ruled that the world champions’ pit wall had only warned their driver about the fast-oncoming Haas, which was on a hot lap whereas the Red Bull was on a slow one, “significantly too late”.

In their statement confirming the decision, stewards said: “Hulkenberg was on a fast lap when he approached turn 13. Perez, who was on an out lap was at the apex of the turn and Hulkenberg had to leave the racing line to drive around him.

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Qualifying highlights of the Australian Grand Prix from Albert Park

“Hulkenberg was forced to lift the throttle early and brake early for that corner. In reviewing the audio from Perez’s car, the Stewards observed that the team was focused on the car in front of Perez that had just slowed, and did not give Perez a warning that Hulkenberg was behind him until one second before Hulkenberg arrived, and significantly too late to avoid impeding Hulkenberg.

“While the Stewards appreciate the dynamic situation facing the team and driver during the Q1 session, which was described in the hearing, the Stewards find that Perez ‘unnecessarily impeded’ Hulkenberg and issue a three grid place drop, consistent with previous cases.”

Australian GP grid: Revised top 10

1. Max Verstappen, Red Bull

2. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari

3. Lando Norris, McLaren

4. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

5. Oscar Piastri, McLaren

6. Sergio Perez, Red Bull

7. George Russell, Mercedes

8. Yuki Tsunoda, RB

9. Lance Stroll, Aston Martin

10. Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin

What does Perez’s penalty mean for the race?

Sky Sports News reporter Craig Slater:

“It’s quite significant in the context of the Grand Prix on Sunday.

“It means Verstappen is now a little bit isolated at the front. Sainz of Ferrari is second and Leclerc in the other Ferrari is now up to the second row, with McLaren’s Lando Norris between them in third.

“Maybe the Ferraris can now gang up on Verstappen at the front.”

Sky Sports F1’s live Australian GP schedule

The third round of the 2024 F1 season takes place on Sunday, with lights out at 4am on Sky Sports F1
The third round of the 2024 F1 season takes place on Sunday, with lights out at 4am on Sky Sports F1

Sunday March 24

  • 12.30am: F2 Feature Race
  • 3am: Australian GP build-up: Grand Prix Sunday
  • 6am: Australian GP reaction: Chequered Flag
  • 7am: Ted’s Notebook
  • 7.30am: Australian GP highlights
  • 8.30am: Australian GP build-up: Grand Prix Sunday replay
  • 9.30am: Australian GP race replay
  • 10am: Australian GP highlights (Sky Showcase)
  • 11.30am: Australian GP reaction: Chequered Flag replay

Formula 1’s biggest ever season continues with the Australian Grand Prix live on Sky Sports F1 at 4am on Sunday, live on Sky Sports F1. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime

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