Red Bull Racing front row in Melbourne

Sebastian Vetted and Mark Webber will start Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix from the front row after dominating the qualifying session in Melbourne.

The Adrian Newey designed RB6 was the class of the Formula One field around the 3.295-mile street circuit and both drivers were able to extract the extra performance to turn the session into a battle royale.

Vettel edged out his team-mate by just over a tenth of a second with a sensational lap. The young German recorded a time of one minute, 23.919 seconds (the only lap below the one minute, 24 seconds and in doing so, smashes the old lap record set by fellow countryman Michael Schumacher back in 2004).

Even that wild moment in the last timed sector – in which Sebastian kept his foot down on the throttle as the car snapped into oversteer – was unable to affect his lap time in taking that all-important pole position.

As for home crowd favourite Webber, he had the opportunity to take the top spot but lost crucial time in the middle sector of his best lap, having been fastest of all in sectors one and three. The Australian will start his home race in second.

Bahrain Grand Prix winner Fernando Alonso was the only contender to challenge the Red Bulls in qualifying. The Ferrari driver best time was one minute, 24.111 seconds, just under two tenths shy of pole position.

World champion Jenson Button was only fourth quickest but the gap between his McLaren and the leading Red Bull was a surprise. Just six tenths of a second! That difference in performance is a worry for Jenson, as he seeks to defend his drivers’ title from his rivals. McLaren will need to step up in order to challenge Red Bull for championship honours.

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa lines up in sixth ahead of the Mercedes GP duo of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher – with the young German again out-qualifying his more experienced colleague – although the pair did struggle to get the best from the soft set of Bridgestone during the session.

Rubens Barrichello will start the race in eighth for Williams with Renault’s Robert Kubica in ninth while the fastest Force India of Adrian Sutil completed the top ten.

The surprise of Q2 was Lewis Hamilton’s failure to get through to Q3. The McLaren driver seemed to be struggling with his car balance (possibly caused by the tyre pressure) and missed out on the top-ten shootout by 0.064 seconds. He will start the Australian Grand Prix in a disappointing P11.

Behind the 2008 world champion, Sebastien Buemi lines up P12 for Toro Rosso ahead of Force India’s Vitantonio Liuzzi, BMW Sauber’s Pedro de la Rosa, Williams’ Nico Hulkenberg, BMW Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi, Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari and Renault’s Vitaly Petrov.

As expected, the six drivers at the three new teams were all eliminated in Q1. The HRT again propped up at the rear end of the grid – Bruno Senna taking P23 ahead of Karun Chandhok – but encouragingly got within six seconds of the outright pace in Q1 and within a second of Timo Glock’s faster Virgin Racing in P21. Team-mate Lucas di Grass will start the race in P22.

The Lotus Racing drivers finished up fastest of the new teams, with Heikki Kovalainen just over three tenths clear of team-mate Jarno Trulli.

Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix should be a better spectacle compared to the dull season opener in Bahrain. Many critics have complained about the lack of on-track action in particular overtaking. Hopefully the nature of this street circuit in Melbourne, with the concrete walls and the use of the safety car if there are accidents, will provide better entertainment.

Qualifying times from Albert Park:

1.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault      1:23.919
2.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault      1:24.035
3.  Alonso         Ferrari               1:24.111
4.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:24.675
5.  Massa          Ferrari               1:24.837
6.  Rosberg        Mercedes              1:24.884
7.  Schumacher     Mercedes              1:24.927
8.  Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth     1:25.217
9.  Kubica         Renault               1:25.372
10.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes  1:26.036
11.  Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes       1:25.184
12.  Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:25.638
13.  Liuzzi         Force India-Mercedes  1:25.743
14.  de la Rosa     Sauber-Ferrari       1:25.747
15.  Hulkenberg     Williams-Cosworth     1:25.748
16.  Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari        1:25.777
17.  Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1:26.089
18.  Petrov         Renault               1:26.471
19.  Kovalainen     Lotus-Cosworth        1:28.797
20.  Trulli         Lotus-Cosworth        1:29.111
21.  Glock          Virgin-Cosworth       1:29.592
22.  di Grassi      Virgin-Cosworth       1:30.185
23.  Senna          HRT-Cosworth          1:30.526
24.  Chandhok       HRT-Cosworth          1:30.613

7 thoughts to “Red Bull Racing front row in Melbourne”

  1. The top three drivers’ views on the qualifying session at Albert Park. Taken from

    Sebastian Vettel is aiming to redeem himself at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday following his disappointing race in the season-opening race in Bahrain.

    The Red Bull driver secured his second consecutive pole position on Saturday after having started from the top spot at Sakhir two weeks ago.

    Back then, however, Vettel had to settle for fourth place in the race after being hit by a problem with a spark plug, having led for most of the event.

    Now the German wants to have a trouble-free race tomorrow and get the win he thought he deserved in Bahrain.

    “I think the main thing is to finish, see the chequered flag this time,” said Vettel, who last year retired after a crash with Robert Kubica. “Last year we were close, only a couple of laps.

    “Now we have a rough idea what is happening on Sunday, meaning everyone will jump in with a lot of fuel. It will be more bumpy and more difficult to control. It is a long race.”

    Vettel will start ahead of Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber as the Milton Keynes-based squad enjoyed a brilliant day.

    “I think obviously it is a great result for both of us and the team,” he added. “It’s Mark’s home race – it’s a little bit funny because last year he set the pole in Germany so it is kind of revenge.”

    He added: “I think we did a good step into qualifying again with the car improving, and the final session was all about ‘Does it start to rain or not?’

    “I think I lost a little at the last corner into the main straight, but it was a very, very good lap. I am very happy and the result says it all.

    “I am looking forward to tomorrow, it is quite good to start in front. We don’t know how messy it might get tomorrow, there is a lot happening at Albert Park, safety car, no safety car, but it’s good to start in front. I am happy.”

    Mark Webber is pleased with his performance in qualifying for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix, despite missing out on a home pole position to Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

    Red Bull dominated all three segments of today’s qualifying session in Melbourne and Vettel managed to pip local hero Webber to pole by just 0.116s.

    Webber did set the fastest times in sectors one and three on his final run, but lost time in the middle part of the lap and wound up second.

    “It went very, very well today,” said Webber. “Seb and I are trying to find time that is probably not there, looking for lap time that is risky to get.

    “I wasn’t keen on repeating my Bahrain performance [where Webber made a mistake in Q3 and wound up on row four] and it was a good lap – a bee’s dick off pole!”

    “Obviously I am not happy with order today, but we had a good battle today and I will be happy in the morning when I wake up because I am in a good position to have a decent race.

    “This place is extremely unpredictable come Sunday afternoon, not only the circuit but the changeable weather, and tomorrow is a long, long race with the possibility of safety cars and a lot of smaller teams and inexperienced drivers getting used to this type of venue.

    “I don’t think we will be finishing in the order of the top 10 we’ve seen today.”

    Webber also praised the effort of his team, which made changes to the car overnight to compensate for today’s cooler track conditions.

    “The team has done a great job all weekend. We have been competitive all weekend, always in the top few.

    “We know we have some very good opposition here, but in the end we got the maximum result for the team today.”

    Fernando Alonso says he is not thinking of victory in the Australian Grand Prix, and claims his main goal is to score as many points as possible.

    The Ferrari driver, leading the championship after winning in Bahrain two weeks ago, will start tomorrow’s race from third position, behind the two Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.

    Alonso admitted he did not expect to be able to beat the Red Bulls in qualifying, but was still pleased with his performance.

    “Qualifying has been good for us,” said Alonso. “We knew that to beat the Red Bulls was a difficult thing to do here, so we concentrated to maximise our potential, and third was a very good result

    “Tomorrow the race is long, so we’ll try to finish the race on the podium like Bahrain, and we want to keep scoring points. There will be a long race, with safety cars, accidents, problems and it will be very tough.

    “First we need to finish the race and then see if we are quick to win the race or not.”

    The Spaniard admitted the result was no surprise to him, and said he is confident of a strong, although difficult, race.

    “It’s not a surprise because I was not expecting a clear order,” he added. “Yesterday’s times mean really nothing because with a different fuel load that we have this year everyone can have different preparation for this weekend.

    “Yesterday I was P15, so we were preparing the race compared to our competitors a little bit more. For tomorrow I am confident but as all three said tomorrow’s race is a very long race with many things that normally happen here.

    “I’m extremely happy with a place in the top three, but this is start of the weekend and tomorrow is the real job.”

  2. Even though Nico Rosbery again out-qualified his more experienced team-mate, seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, the young German was unhappy with his performance in the Silver Arrows. Read the for the full reason in his disappointment:

    Nico Rosberg said he was not happy with his performance in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix despite finishing ahead of team-mate Michael Schumacher.

    “Not really, unfortunately, no,” Rosberg told the BBC when asked if he was happy to be starting from sixth position.

    “I’m pleased because we made a lot of progress from this morning – I’ve been struggling all weekend – and progressed a lot.

    “But then, however, didn’t get the best out of it in qualifying. I could have done a lot better than that: I think three or four tenths at least because I was off the road on my fastest lap but that’s the way it is and still sixth place is a good place to start,” added the Mercedes GP driver.

    Rosberg admitted however that he was pleased to have turned things around in qualifying after Schumacher had been quicker than him in practice.

    “A little bit, of course, yes, because he’s been quicker up until qualifying all weekend and then I really turned around after qualifying but I didn’t get the best out of it and that’s much more important, so I need to concentrate more in future,” he added.

    “It’s not typical for me to make such mistakes in qualifying normally.”

  3. Comparre the contrast with Rubens Barrichello at Williams. The Brazilian was delighted with his performance in qualifying and will start the Australian Grand Prix in
    eighth. See the story below for his views as taken from

    Rubens Barrichello declared himself happy after qualifying in the top ten ahead of tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix.

    Barrichello will start from eighth position with his Williams, the Brazilian saying a better time in Q3 would have been possible if not for traffic.

    “Qualifying went quite well for me and I’m happy with the way things went,” he said. “We went through Q1 and then I put a good lap in during Q2.

    “I was pleased with my lap in Q3 but there was a bit more there which we missed out on due to traffic. I think we can achieve a better result tomorrow than we did in Bahrain.

    “Eighth is a nice result, but I know everyone in the team aims a lot higher. I’m sure we will get there, but right now that is the limit of the car.”

    Team-mate Nico Hulkenberg admitted he was not pleased with his performance after finishing down in 15th position.

    “I’m disappointed with qualifying and expected more,” the German said. “The target was obviously to get into the top ten, but I didn’t get the lap together and this is the result.

    “This is my first qualifying here; it’s not an easy circuit to learn and it’s very narrow and quite bumpy. It will be difficult to get into the points tomorrow from P15, but you never know what could happen if the weather turns.”

  4. As for Lewis Hamilton, this was a weekend to forget. He’s already in the headlines for all the wrong reasons after Lewis was pulled over by the Melbourne police with his burnout outings… And to qualify in a disappointing P11 was not the kind of result he wanted. F1 Fanatic has posted a report on Hamilton’s bad weekend (see link) and as for the reason why the McLaren driver struggled in Q2, read the story outlined below.

    F1 Fanatic article –

    Lewis Hamilton said he simply was not quick enough after struggling during qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix.

    The McLaren driver, who had looked strong in practice, was unable to make it to Q3, complaining about the lack of grip from his tyres.

    Hamilton will start tomorrow’s race from 11th position.

    “I wasn’t fast enough,” Hamilton told the BBC after qualifying. “I feel I got everything out of the car, I just really didn’t have any more grip out of the tyres.

    “Unfortunate but we can still have a good race tomorrow hopefully.”

    He added: “Basically my first run I got a lot of traffic so I wasn’t able to do a lap. So then I came in early – went back out early – and traffic was very difficult out there but I had a clear lap, just wasn’t able to get…”

    The McLaren driver said his road car incident on Friday, when his car was impounded by the police, had nothing to do with his performance today.

    “It was something you learn from and I don’t think it has particularly affected today. I think the weather, I don’t know if I got the right heat into the tyres or not, but Jenson is doing a good job at least.”

    Lewis Hamilton is confident he can come back strongly in the Australian Grand Prix after his qualifying disappointment, and will not be distracted by his incident with the police on Friday night.

    The former world champion had his Mercedes road car impounded after being stopped by police while leaving the circuit yesterday. Hamilton openly admitted that he had been driving in a “silly” manner.

    He went on to qualify only 11th – seven places behind his McLaren team-mate Jenson Button – but insisted that Friday night’s events had not affected his focus, and that they would not disrupt his race either.

    “I had to make sure I arrived here without anything hanging over my head. It wasn’t easy,” said Hamilton. “But the support of everyone in the team has been tremendous.

    “I really did get in the car feeling quite relaxed and I could go out and enjoy the session. I did enjoy Q1, I just didn’t enjoy Q2.

    “I will make sure I have a good meal tonight, a good rest and I feel tomorrow we can come back strong.”

    Hamilton praised the support he had received from McLaren following his encounter with the Melbourne police.

    “Today it definitely hasn’t been easy, but I’ve had great support,” he said. “The incredible thing in this team is that you have incredible support from each and everyone.

    “I didn’t walk in here this morning and people turned their backs on me – I had support from [team boss] Martin [Whitmarsh] and every individual in the team, and that is the great thing about being part of the team – we support each other through thick and thin.

    “I put my hands up, I made a mistake and they supported me through it.”

    He now hopes to at least salvage points from tomorrow’s race.

    “It is very important. Clearly Jenson had a great qualifying session, he did a great job, but for me, as always, points are key for the constructors’ championship and for the drivers’,” said Hamilton.

    “I will do my utmost to score as many points as I can tomorrow, and tomorrow is going to be a tricky day with the start of the race. Possibly safety cars and the weather [will affect things].”

  5. McLaren team-mate Jenson Button expects a stronger race performance despite setting the fourth quickest time in qualifying. Story taken from

    Jenson Button doubts he will be able to fight for victory in the Australian Grand Prix, but believes his McLaren will be closer to Red Bull and Ferrari tomorrow than it was in qualifying.

    The reigning world champion was 0.7 seconds away from polesitter Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) as he took fourth on the grid – seven places ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

    When asked if he had a shot at winning the race, Button replied: “Looking at qualifying, it is a no. But, the pace in Bahrain in the race was a lot more competitive than the pace in qualifying.

    “I think we have done quite a lot of qualifying work this weekend but it doesn’t mean our race pace will be poor. I think our race pace will be competitive but how competitive I don’t know yet – we will do our best and if we are quick enough to fight the front guys then great.”

    He feels he has been in better shape throughout the Melbourne weekend than he was at Sakhir.

    “From the word go this weekend the car has felt better than the balance in Bahrain, so qualifying is better and hopefully our race performance will be better than it was in Bahrain and hopefully we can challenge the cars in front,” Button said.

    “It is always tricky when you are six tenths behind pole to imagine you can be fighting it out for a win. As we saw in Bahrain, Lewis’ pace in the race was very good so I think we can possibly challenge them and tomorrow will be a race about strategy, the weather conditions will play a big part and we have to be on top of it – every scenario possible out there we have to be ready for.”

    Button admitted that McLaren appeared to have lost pace relative to its rivals between practice and qualifying.

    “For me the car felt very good yesterday, I was very happy with the balance when the circuit had a lot of grip,” he said.

    “This morning we struggled a little bit with the car. It felt very low grip on the circuit, and it seemed, I don’t know if it is true or not, but it seems that a lot of the teams put downforce on the car today because if you compare our straightline speeds yesterday, compared to the straightline speeds today, we picked up a lot of speed which means they have only added downforce.

    “That is a good reason why we are struggling and lost time compared to our competitors. Qualifying itself I felt reasonably happy with the car, the balance isn’t far away from where I want it but we weren’t quick enough compared to the Red Bulls and Ferraris.

    “In Q3 if I had got the perfect lap together it would have been another tenth maximum, it was quite windy at the end and I don’t think the circuit was any quicker, so we are six tenths off what the Red Bulls are at the moment, so it is a big gap in qualifying but I think it is getting smaller.”

  6. According to seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher is seeking clarification with the race stewards after blocking from several drivers during the qualifying session. Read on for the full story:

    Michael Schumacher sought clarification from FIA race director Charlie Whiting about driving standards after qualifying in Melbourne – having been left angry that he had been blocked by other drivers.

    The Mercedes GP driver was unhappy that his efforts were hit by both Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton getting in his way during various stages of the qualifying.

    And he was so upset with the way that Alonso had driven while on a slow down lap at the end of Q3, that he confronted the Spaniard in parc ferme after the session – before seeking out Whiting to discuss the matter further.

    “Basically on my last try, I was slowed down by him,” explained Schumacher about Alonso. “I asked him whether the team had told him [I was on a quick lap] and he said no.

    “In a way it is difficult because he was on his in-lap, and he was worrying about other things than maybe watching the mirror. But saying that, we had this chat yesterday in the drivers’ briefing that this should be taken care of, and actually he was one of the main guys asking about it.

    “I wanted to know if the team had told him or not, and then I had a conversation with Charlie about it because I wanted to know what are the guidelines here – and whether the rules have changed a little bit to what they used to be. I [told Whiting I] need to know what would you be okay with, and what not.”

    When asked about Hamilton in Q2, Schumacher added: “I had a similar issue with Lewis, that he was adapting his lap and preparing his lap and blocking me in a way – which is not very nice.

    “If you sit behind, you are trying your best, which I am doing at the moment, and then somebody slows you down, it is not very comfortable.”

    The incident between Alonso and Schumacher comes after several problems over the Australian Grand Prix weekend – where slow cars have got in the way of faster approaching rivals. BMW Sauber’s Pedro de la Rosa was reprimanded after the final free practice session for impeding another driver.

  7. I think that settles it then, the Red Bull is the fast car of the grid and despite Merc investment Brawn are going backward. Don’t feel sorry for Virgin and their fuel issues as I think they are too smug.

    Wasn’t Hamilton’s activities very funny? Hope they throw the book at the smug git.

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