Australian GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report
It's a new lap record!
By Dan Knutson in Melbourne
Lewis Hamilton earned pole position with a time of 1:22.188. That's a new lap record around the 16-turn 3.295-mile [5.303 km] Albert Park circuit that has been hosting the Australian Grand Prix since 1996.
Sebastian Vettel had been quickest in the weekend so far with his time of 1:23.380 set in FP3. He held the record for the fastest pole lap at the Albert Park circuit, with his 1:23.529 in 2011. Michael Schumacher holds the race lap record with a 1:24.125 in 2004.
The ambient temperature at the start of qualifying was 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 93 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Centigrade). There was a 40 percent chance of rain.
The line-up for the weekend was: Mercedes ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Ferrari ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Williams Mercedes ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. Red Bull TAG Heuer ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen . Force India Mercedes ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. Renault ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer. Toro Rosso Ferrari ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz. Sauber Ferrari ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. McLaren Honda ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. Manor Mercedes ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon. Haas Ferrari ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez.
Vandoorne got things rolling in Q1 which would last 18 minutes. But his engine had a fuel flow issue and he had to pit.
Stroll's car needed a new gearbox after he hit the wall in FP3, and that meant he would get a five-place grid penalty from wherever he qualified.
The two Ferrari drivers went out on Pirelli's super soft compound slicks, but all the other drivers did not want to take that gamble and thus used the ultra softs. That included Bottas who did a 1:24.514 to claim first place ahead of Hamilton who clocked a 1:24.535.
Hamilton improved on his second run with a 1:24.191.
Down at the other end, with five minutes to go, Ericsson was 15th and on the bubble with Giovinazzi 14th and Ocon 16th. That changed around in the final moments.
The five drivers who were eliminated at the end of Q1 were: Giovinazzi, Magnussen, Vandoorne, Stroll and Palmer.
The fastest 15 drivers who moved on to Q2 were: Hamilton, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Bottas, Hulkenberg, Perez, Massa, Vettel, Ricciardo, Grosjean, Sainz, Alonso, Kvyat, Ocon and Ericsson.
Everybody ended up using the ultra softs except Vettel who used only super soft tires in Q1.
It would be ultra soft Pirellis all round in Q2, including those on Bottas' Mercedes and that of his teammate Hamilton. They both headed out immediately.
Bottas stopped the watches at 1:23.215. Ten seconds later Hamilton did it in 1:23.251 using a used set of ultras. And Raikkonen topped Vettel to take third place. Ricciardo also beat Verstappen for fifth.
With the first round of runs over, Perez was in 10th and on the bubble behind Kvyat and ahead of Hulkenberg. Alonso, 14th, radioed that his engine had lost power.
Vettel went out for a second run but could not improve on his fourth place. Ditto for Verstappen in sixth.
Bottas, Hamilton, Raikkonen and Ricciardo did not go out for more laps, but the rest did.
When it was over, the five drivers who were eliminated at the end of Q2 were: Perez, Hulkenberg, Alonso, Ocon and Ericsson.
The fastest 10 drivers who moved on to Q3 were: Bottas, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Vettel, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Massa, Grosjean, Kvyat and Sainz.
Q3 lasted 12 minutes.
Bottas got out first, ahead of Vettel, Hamilton and Raikkonen.
Bottas did a 1:22.798, Vettel a 1:22.796, Raikkonen a 1:22.798 and Hamilton a 1:22.496.
Then Ricciardo lost control of his Red Bull in Turn 14 and hit the barriers. The session was red flagged with eight minutes remaining.
"Sorry, guys," Ricciardo radioed. He would start tenth in his home grand prix unless the car perhaps needed a new gearbox.
Only Hamilton, Vettel, Bottas and Raikkonen had set times so far.
Grosjean was the first and only driver to go out when the session restarted.
Bottas improved but so did Hamilton with their times of 1:22.481 and 1:22.188 respectively. Vettel got down to a 1:22.456 to split the Mercedes drivers.
Raikkonen wound up fourth ahead of Verstappen, Grosjean, Massa, Sainz, Kvyat and Ricciardo.