Hamilton denies Ricciardo dream pole in Australia

Hamilton qualifying 2014

The new 2014-spec Formula 1 cars may lack the noise when compared to the V8 era, but the Melbourne crowd had a moment to cheer when their home driver was going to get his maiden pole position.

And yet, race favourite Lewis Hamilton snatched that opportunity from Daniel Ricciardo in the final moments of an exciting Q3 session.

The Mercedes driver will start on pole position for the 32nd time and he now equals Nigel Mansell’s qualifying achievement in the sport.

As for the four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, the Red Bull driver failed to make into Q3 and will start the Australian Grand Prix down in unlucky P13.

The Mercedes driver, on wet tyres, knocked Vettel’s Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who was on intermediate rubber, off top spot by three tenths of a second in the final seconds of a rain-hit session.

Nico Rosberg, who had briefly taken provisional pole before Hamilton and Ricciardo improved late on, was third ahead of McLaren’s rookie Kevin Magnussen.

Both drivers, as well as fifth-placed Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, set their times on wet rubber with opinion split among the ten runners as to which tyre compound was preferable.

Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne showed his wet weather prowess with a superb sixth position ahead of Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, both setting their times on intermediates.

Behind the pair was Formula 1 rookie Daniil Kvyat, who impressed despite an off in Q3 on the run between Turns 10 and 11.

He took eighth place on wet rubber, ahead of Williams drivers Felipe Massa (intermediates) and Valtteri Bottas (wets), although the latter must serve a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change before qualifying.

Several of the drivers who failed to advance from Q2 to Q3 were unable to improve thanks to yellow flags caused by Kimi Raikkonen’s late crash as rain returned in intermediate conditions.

The Ferrari driver lost the rear at the exit of Turn 3 and spun into the wall, with Vettel among those who were attempting to jump into the top ten at the time.

With both failing to make the cut in P12 and P13, Jenson Button made it three world champions to fail to make the top ten shootout in P11.

Sauber’s Adrian Sutil, Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi and Force India driver Sergio Perez, who ran through the gravel at Turn 2 on his final flying lap, also fell in Q2.

Marussia driver Max Chilton was the fastest of the drivers to be knocked out in Q1, which was effectively ended at a point when most had managed only one run thanks to rain at the halfway mark.

Chilton was just nineteen thousandths of a second slower than Kobayashi, who did make the cut but was unable to do better than P15 in the second stage of qualifying.

Chilton’s eam-mate Jules Bianchi, Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez (who will be hit with a five-place penalty for a gearbox change) and Caterham rookie Marcus Ericsson were also eliminated in Q1.

Joining them were the Lotus E22s of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado, the latter not able to attempt a lap until the damp conditions late on and having two off-track excursions before aborting his run.

This was a shocking qualifying session for Lotus and starting on the back row is not ideal.

As for the stars of qualifying – Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen – this was a brilliant achievement. Out-qualified their highly impressive team-mates first time.

Qualifying positions for the Australian Grand Prix:

1.  Lewis Hamilton     Mercedes              1m44.231s
2.  Daniel Ricciardo   Red Bull-Renault      1m44.548s
3.  Nico Rosberg       Mercedes              1m44.595s
4.  Kevin Magnussen    McLaren-Mercedes      1m45.745s
5.  Fernando Alonso    Ferrari               1m45.819s
6.  Jean-Eric Vergne   Toro Rosso-Renault    1m45.864s
7.  Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes  1m46.030s
8.  Daniil Kvyat       Toro Rosso-Renault    1m47.360s
9.  Felipe Massa       Williams-Mercedes     1m48.079s
10.  Jenson Button      McLaren-Mercedes      1m44.437s
11.  Kimi Raikkonen     Ferrari               1m44.494s
12.  Sebastian Vettel   Red Bull-Renault      1m44.668s
13.  Adrian Sutil       Sauber-Ferrari        1m45.655s
14.  Kamui Kobayashi    Caterham-Renault      1m45.867s
15.  Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes     1m48.147s*
16.  Sergio Perez       Force India-Mercedes  1m47.293s
17.  Max Chilton        Marussia-Ferrari      1m34.293s
18.  Jules Bianchi      Marussia-Ferrari      1m34.794s
20.  Marcus Ericsson    Caterham-Renault      1m35.157s
21.  Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Renault         1m36.993s
22.  Pastor Maldonado   Lotus-Renault         No time
22.  Esteban Gutierrez  Sauber-Ferrari        1m35.117s*

*Five-place penalty for gearbox change

107 per cent: 1m37.129s

10 thoughts to “Hamilton denies Ricciardo dream pole in Australia”

  1. The star of qualifying has downplayed his performance over his Red Bull team-mate. Autosport.com has the news story.

    Daniel Ricciardo insisted he was not thinking too much about his margin over his Formula 1 champion Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel after starring in Australian Grand Prix qualifying.

    Ricciardo came close to clinching pole on his debut with Red Bull, only narrowly losing out to Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes as he secured his first F1 front-row start on home ground in Melbourne.

    Vettel had a difficult session and qualified only 13th, saying he struggled with the car’s driveability in the damp.

    “I’m definitely not looking at him,” said Ricciardo.

    “I am sure he had some problems of some sort today, but starting the season with a front row, it does a lot of good things for the confidence.”

    The Australian said that while qualifying second in front of his local crowd was a huge boost, he was determined not to get carried away – insisting he still had to prove himself on race day.

    “I’m really excited, but at the same time still staying calm and collected because tomorrow is what counts,” said Ricciardo.

    “There is no point having a party tonight and not focusing on tomorrow.

    “I still can’t get ahead of myself, I still have a bit to prove and to establish myself at the front.

    “It would be great to be up here for the next few weekends and cement myself at the front of the grid.

    “This is a step towards that but there’s still a bit to go. I’m excited about what lies ahead and giving it a bit of a crack.”

  2. As for Sebastian Vettel, the world champion was knocked out in Q2 following an engine software issue. Autosport.com has the details.

    Renault says an engine software issue caused Sebastian Vettel’s troubled Australian Grand Prix qualifying session.

    While his new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo qualified second in Melbourne, reigning Formula 1 world champion Vettel will start only 13th.

    Renault confirmed a software issue meant Vettel suffered from a lack of power, and the German said the issue had been present since the morning practice session.

    “This morning was still OK but definitely a step down, and then this afternoon when it started to rain I was struggling a lot with driveability and it made my life pretty difficult,” said Vettel.

    “I made it round, but I struggled a lot when going on the power, so driveability was down.

    “We programmed it to be like yesterday, if not a little bit better.

    “There was a different set-up and a software update, but with modern Formula 1 there’s a lot of software programming and it’s not easy for drivers to understand what’s going on.”

    Why Red Bull is back in the game

    Although Red Bull’s Australian GP has been generally encouraging after its difficult winter, Vettel suspects reliability will still be a challenge on race day.

    “We still haven’t done a race simulation or a race distance in one go,” he said.

    “I think we have improved reliability compared to testing because we’re able to put parts on the car with zero mileage. But there’s still a long way to go.

    “The biggest relief yesterday was the performance, but we know that on reliability there are still things to do.

    “We’re both trying to see the chequered flag and we know the car’s quick, so we want to finish as high up as possible, but priority number one is to finish the race.”

  3. Bad weather and a plucky Australian driver threatened to rain on Mercedes’ parade at the Australian Grand Prix on Saturday but Lewis Hamilton’s last-gasp pole kept the Silver Arrows on top for Sunday’s race.

    A topsy-turvy day of howling gales, rain squalls and crashes came to a head in the final seconds of qualifying, with Red Bull’s new boy Daniel Ricciardo all but stealing pole from under the favourites’ nose.

    With the session wound up, 2008 world champion Hamilton roared home in a frenetic finish to wrest back first spot on the Albert Park grid. Ricciardo qualified second for his home race.

    “It’s been an interesting weekend,” Hamilton told reporters with marked under-statement.

    “The conditions made it extremely difficult. There was so much more power, so much more wheelspin … Great fun otherwise and I hope that the weather’s better tomorrow, mostly for the fans, but also for us,” added the 29-year-old Briton.

    “These new cars are a lot harder to drive in the wet, and it was the first time for me driving (the 2014 car) in the wet … So, serious task and challenge today. But for both me and Nico (Rosberg) to be up here is a great story for the team.”

    Mercedes arrived Down Under quietly confident after a promising winter testing in which they appeared far more comfortable with the intricacies of the new turbocharged hybrid engines than their rivals.

    All that appeared an illusion as Hamilton’s first foray in Friday practice ended in seconds when his car came to a complete stop due to an oil pressure sensor failure.

    Hamilton hit back to top the timesheets in the second session, however, before German team mate Rosberg underlined Mercedes’ dominance in the final practice on Saturday by topping the timesheets nearly 1.5 seconds clear of McLaren’s Jenson Button.

    Hamilton’s pole was his 32nd, matching Nigel Mansell’s British record.

    “One of the greatest British drivers we had,” Hamilton said of the Englishman, who won a world championship with Williams in 1992. “To be in Formula One has always been my dream, but to get as many poles as him is an incredible achievement.

    “I really owe that to all the great people I worked with throughout my career. I wouldn’t be able to put in all those laps without all those people helping me.”

    Mercedes are a second quicker in pace to the rest, according to Button, and some scattered showers forecast for Sunday are unlikely to prove much of a roadblock.

    Fuel consumption is expected to prove more of a lottery, however, as drivers battle to conserve their quota of 100 kilograms of petrol, in a new rule for race day.

    “Of course, it’s going to be a completely different story again from today,” said Rosberg, who will start third.

    “I think more likely it’s going to be dry and it’ll be totally different because this year, especially Melbourne, it’s the most difficult track for fuel consumption.

    “So it’s going to be difficult tomorrow to save enough fuel for the race.”

    Source: Reuters

  4. Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen has admitted that his crash during qualifying happened during the in-lap. Autosport.com has the news story.

    Kimi Raikkonen says it was traffic, and not his trip into the wall, that cost him a chance of progressing into the final part of Australian Grand Prix qualifying.

    The Finn sparked chaos in the closing stages of Q2 when he spun on the exit of Turn 3, nosing his Ferrari into the wall and bringing out the yellow flags.

    The crash ended Raikkonen’s first Formula 1 qualifying session of 2014 on the spot, ensuring that he had no chance of improving beyond 12th position.

    However, Raikkonen says traffic had already ruined his chances of going through to Q3, and that he was actually heading back to the pits when he spun.

    “I didn’t have any more time to do an extra lap, so on that lap I would have come in anyway,” he said.

    “I was playing around with the switches or something, and I got a little bit of wheelspin and touched the wall. But the car is more or less OK.

    “It was just my mistake. I got a little bit of wheelspin, I wasn’t pushing anymore, but I couldn’t catch it.

    “That didn’t change the fact we had traffic on the previous lap. There was a McLaren going very slowly through Turn 5, and there were some other cars in front of us, but that’s how it goes sometimes.

    “In the wet we had the speed, it was just the traffic.”

    Raikkonen’s team-mate Fernando Alonso had a much smoother qualifying season, securing fifth on the grid, a position which he says will allow him to fight for a podium in the race.

    “We just need to make two positions to get that goal,” he said.

    “But you cannot take finishing the race for granted, as we have been doing in the last couple of years. This first race, the first priority is the finish the race.

    “That may sound pessimistic, but even the guy in pole position cannot be 100 per cent that he will finish the race.

    “We need to make sure we cross the line. If we do so, then we can be on the podium.”

  5. Cheery smiles and high-fives were a rare sight in the McLaren garage last year, but new boy Kevin Magnussen inspired a bout of happy back-slapping when he put the British team on the second row for Sunday’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

    The 21-year-old Dane, son of former Formula one racer Jan, qualified fourth at Albert Park on Saturday, outshining former world champion team mate Jenson Button, who will line up 10th on the grid after a rain-hit session.

    Racing director Eric Boullier, who joined McLaren in the off-season after being team principal at last year’s Australian race winners Lotus, was delighted with the highly fancied debutant’s effort.

    “A rookie’s first ever qualifying session is always a daunting occasion for him, all the more so when rain has made the track surface both tricky and treacherous,” Boullier said.

    “Nonetheless, Kevin coped brilliantly with exactly those conditions.”

    Magnussen will line up alongside Nico Rosberg, with the German’s Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton on pole.

    The Dane said negotiating Albert Park’s bumpy street circuit in rain squalls, gusty winds and in a new car that still has plenty of development ahead, was “much trickier” than anything he had bargained for.

    “But I don’t think I could have asked for any more today,” he said.

    “I made a mistake and went off on my last lap, so I might have been able to go quicker, but I’m still happy.

    “The car was really good, and the team did a fantastic job of preparing me for this. I’m proud of myself, but also proud of the whole team for doing such a massively good job of preparing me over the winter.

    “I’ll try to enjoy tomorrow and do the best I can – getting onto the podium won’t be easy, especially if it’s dry. But if it’s wet, anything could happen – so I guess a wet grand prix is what I’ll be hoping for.”

    Button will be hoping for the same, after his qualifying was marred by an untimely crash by Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in the second session which brought out the yellow flags.

    “I think we had a very good chance of qualifying closer to the front, because our car isn’t quite so quick in the dry,” Button said. “Not getting into the top 10 was sheer bad luck – but, hopefully, I won’t be so unlucky tomorrow.”

    Magnussen replaced Mexican Sergio Perez at McLaren, who failed to win a podium spot last year in their worst season in decades.

    The Dane is the first rookie since Hamilton in 2007 to make his F1 debut with McLaren. The Briton finished third in Melbourne in his opening race after also qualifying fourth.

    Source: Reuters

  6. Brazilian racer Felipe Massa commented that the wet conditions made it difficult for the Williams team to do very well. Autosport.com has the story.

    Williams is struggling more in wet conditions than in the dry, according to Felipe Massa.

    The Brazilian will start Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix from ninth place on the grid after qualifying one position ahead of Valtteri Bottas, who will line up 15th thanks to a grid penalty.

    But after Williams showed promising pace both in testing and during practice, Massa put the team’s relatively disappointing performance down to the conditions.

    “Q1 was good in the dry and I think normal conditions are better for us,” said Massa when asked by AUTOSPORT about qualifying.

    “The car was not easy to drive in the wet so I was struggling massively with the rear stability.

    “We’re just missing downforce on the rear. It’s something we know about and we’re working on that.”

    Massa added that the car became progressively less competitive as the conditions worsened.

    But he believes that in dry conditions on Sunday Williams will be able to climb the order.

    “In the extreme conditions, we are struggling a lot more. From Q2 to Q3 we were much slower compared to the others.

    “It shows that we’re not really where we expected in the rain.

    “But it doesn’t take our confidence or motivation that we can have a good race tomorrow away.

    “I think a normal race in normal conditions can definitely be different to how it was in qualifying.”

    Bottas echoed Massa’s sentiment, adding that he struggled with the rear end snapping away in the wet conditions.

    The Finn suffered a spin at Turn 1 during qualifying (pictured) and also had an off-track excursion.

    “For us, it looks like at the moment the drier it is, the better it is for us but we need to understand that because in future there will be more rain.

    “It is quite snappy, we are struggling with the rear end and the more grip in the track helps us with that.

    “I had some big moments there, but I would guess everybody did.”

  7. Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Kevin Magnussen were all cleared of alleged infringements during qualifying for the 2014 Formula 1 season opener in Australia.

    Vettel and Magnussen had been called before the race stewards for ignoring yellow flags during the closing stages of Q2.

    But following discussions with the FIA it was agreed that both had slowed sufficiently.

    The stewards said about Vettel: “The driver’s explanation supported by the telemetry satisfied the stewards that, under changing track conditions, the driver had slowed sufficiently and was fully in control.”

    About Magnussen, the statement said: “While the telemetry was inconclusive due to very different track conditions between laps, the stewards were satisfied from the video and the driver’s explanation that he was sufficiently slow and under control.”

    Alonso was called up for having impeded Esteban Gutierrez, but again the stewards elected to take no action.

    Source: Autosport.com

  8. Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi was very thankful for the team after making it through to Q2. Autosport.com has the details.

    Kamui Kobayashi paid tribute to the hard work of the Caterham team after reaching Q2 for the 2014 Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

    The team endured a dismal Friday, with Kobayashi and team-mate Marcus Ericsson completing just three laps between them.

    But Kobayashi, who suffered a fuel system problem on day one, reached the second stage of qualifying on his F1 comeback thanks to the work done during the 19 laps he managed in Saturday’s one-hour free practice session.

    “After a very difficult Friday, to come back on Saturday into Q2 is not too bad,” said Kobayashi when asked by AUTOSPORT about the performance.

    “The mechanics have been working very hard and it’s a good achievement to be here.

    “But tomorrow is the most important, how much mileage we can get, and success in the race.”

    Although Caterham endured problems during practice, Kobayashi believes that he heads into the race with the possibility of making the finish.

    Caterham was comfortably the Renault-powered team that completed the most mileage during testing, meaning that reaching the chequered flag is a realistic objective.

    “The most important thing is to finish the race so we will see what we can do and what we are missing,” said Kobayashi.

    “At the moment, we have no idea as it is only the first race.

    “But it [Sunday’s result] is not the big part, which is to get more prepared for development for the car to get success in the car.

    “At the moment, there is too much mystery, so we don’t know how much potential we have in the car.

    “That’s what we are here to do. If we get more mileage, we can get more data.”

    Kobayashi’s team-mate, Marcus Ericsson, also performed well in qualifying considering his lack of running ahead of his debut F1 qualifying session and will start 19th.

  9. Despite qualifying on pole position, Lewis Hamilton is still worried about the reliability on the Mercedes. Autosport.com has the news story.

    Lewis Hamilton remains adamant that reliability will still be a factor for Mercedes during the Australian Grand Prix, after claiming a stunning pole position in difficult qualifying conditions.

    Hamilton lived up to the pre-season hype about Mercedes by taking top spot with a last-gasp lap, displacing Red Bull debutant Daniel Ricciardo in the dying seconds of Q3, while team-mate Nico Rosberg finished third.

    But despite the pole, and the forecast of more favourable weather conditions for Sunday, Hamilton says that finishing the race will still be a challenge.

    “Tomorrow, the race is to finish the race – everyone still has the challenge [of finishing],” he said.

    “Ricciardo was saying [Red Bull] haven’t done a race simulation yet, we have, but still those race simulations weren’t the easiest.

    “Tomorrow’s going to be a challenge for fuel, a challenge for tyres, it’s going to be a learning process for us. So by no means do I think it’s going to be easy.”

    Hamilton also acknowledged the threat of Ricciardo and Red Bull, the reigning champion team having seemingly shaken off a difficult pre-season and returned to form, despite Sebastian Vettel missing out on Q3.

    “They’ve won the championship for several years now so you know that they’re a strong team, I’m aware of what’s possible in a team, things can turn around quite quickly with a lot of work and particularly with good direction,” said Hamilton.

    “They are a great team but we’re here to battle with them, to give just as good if not more back.

    “I think tomorrow, we don’t know what’s going to happen. Obviously we want to win, that’s our goal, we’re going into [the race] with the focus of trying to win, it would be a dream to get a 1-2 for the team.

    “But at the moment it’s about trying to get that first race under our belts, as good as we can, and getting to the end of the race – fuel-saving, all those things, we’re going to learn a lot.

    “[Red Bull] were very competitive in Bahrain in one of their long runs, so we definitely can’t rule them out.”

  10. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will be free to battle for Australian Grand Prix victory, following lengthy team orders clarification talks ahead of the 2014 Formula 1 opener.

    With Mercedes heading into the campaign as the team to beat, there has been intense focus on the potential rivalry between its drivers if they are left battling alone at the front.

    In a bid to head off any controversies, Rosberg and Hamilton sat down with senior management in Melbourne for talks so everyone was clear about the circumstances under which team orders may be imposed in the future.

    But rather than battles being pegged back, Mercedes is adamant that the pair – who qualified first and third in Melbourne – are clear to push each other hard.

    Rosberg, who was left furious during the Malaysian GP last year when he was ordered to stay behind Hamilton, said: “I can already tell you now that there will be battles between Lewis and I – and that is important for the TV and for everybody, for us as a team.

    “That is exciting. That is racing. That is what we are here for – but within certain limits.

    “Of course you cannot go crazy as team-mates because at the same time we are both racing for Mercedes, we are both here to have great success for Mercedes and help bring Mercedes to the front of F1.

    “We need to find the fine line. We have done so in preparing for it and really going through it in detail so we know what to expect.

    “That is the most important thing, once everyone knows what they have to do it is good to go.”

    Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff was confident that both drivers were aware of their duties to the team, and reckoned there would not be any problems.

    “I think it is very difficult to establish parameters, like whoever has the first corner stays in front,” he said. “We are not doing this.

    “We had a long discussion with Paddy [Lowe] and the boys and it was a very good discussion.

    “Everyone gave his opinion about how we should proceed, and we defined that our main competitors are the other teams.

    “We need to make sure that as a team we are running strongly. Then it is to be decided on a case-by-case [basis] with what is going on with the cars. It could go one race in one direction and the other race in another direction.

    “We have discussed it and found a solution which is acceptable to Nico and Lewis and to the team.”

    Source: Autosport.com

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