Hamilton takes Australian Grand Prix pole from Vettel

Lewis Hamilton kicked off his 2017 season with pole position for the Australian Grand Prix, after winning a tense qualifying battle with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton was three tenths up on Vettel after the first runs in Q3, with Bottas just two thousandths of a second slower in third, before Daniel Ricciardo crashed his Red Bull heavily at Turn 14 and caused the session to be red flagged.

The triple champion went even faster on his final run once Q3 resumed, sealing pole with a time of one minute, 22.188 seconds lap – the fastest ever recorded by an Formula 1 car around Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit.

Bottas held top stop for a few moments before Hamilton’s improvement despite a scruffy final flying lap, with Vettel then denying Mercedes a front row lockout by posting the second quickest time on his final run.

Despite setting the pace in final practice, Ferrari ultimately didn’t quite have the speed to challenge the best of the Mercedes drivers, with Vettel 0.268 seconds down on Hamilton, but fractionally quicker than Bottas.

Kimi Raikkonen was fourth fastest, more than half a second further back, while Max Verstappen claimed fifth.

Romain Grosjean produced a solid effort to qualify his Haas inside the top six, nearly four tenths clear of Felipe Massa’s Williams.

Massa was just 0.044 seconds clear of Carlos Sainz, who in turn narrowly beat Toro Rosso team-mate Daniil Kvyat to eighth on the grid.

Ricciardo wound up tenth after failing to set a time before his crash.

Neither Force India made it through to Q3. Sergio Perez, who complained of a gearshift problem, missed the cut by just 0.074 seconds despite improving by nearly four tenths on his final flying lap, while Esteban Ocon failed to find time on his final run and wound up in P14.

Nico Hulkenberg qualified P12 on his debut for the works Renault team, only 0.010 seconds down on Perez, while Fernando Alonso manhandled the troubled McLaren-Honda to take P13, ahead of Ocon and Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber.

Last-minute Sauber stand-in Antonio Giovinazzi was P16, after replacing the unfit Pascal Wehrlein ahead of final practice.

The Ferrari reserve driver was quicker than Ericsson after the first runs in Q1, but went off at the penultimate corner on his final effort, so wound up 0.183 seconds down and failed to make the Q2 cut.

Kevin Magnussen’s difficult first weekend racing for Haas continued. K-Mag went off track on his final Q1 flier and failing to improve his time.

He was fractionally faster than Stoffel Vandoorne, who completed only one flying lap in the McLaren after a fuel-flow problem forced him to return to the pits for most of the session.

Williams repaired rookie Lance Stroll’s car in time to make a late appearance in Q1, following his heavy crash at the end of FP3.

Stroll was P19, though faces a grid penalty for a gearbox change ahead of the session, while Renault’s Jolyon Palmer qualified slowest. More than a second down on Stroll and over three adrift of Renault team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.

So an interesting grid line-up for the Australian Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton earning his 62nd career pole in the sport with Sebastian Vettel on the front row. The Ferrari seems to be quick and it’s great to see the champions at the top. Roll on race day.

Qualifying positions for the Australian Grand Prix:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m22.188s
2    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m22.456s
3    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1m22.481s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m23.033s
5    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m23.485s
6    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m24.074s
7    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m24.443s
8    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m24.487s
9    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m24.512s
10    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    –
11    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m25.081s
12    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m25.091s
13    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m25.425s
14    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1m25.568s
15    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m26.465s
16    Antonio Giovinazzi    Sauber-Ferrari    1m26.419s
17    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1m26.847s
18    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1m26.858s
19    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m28.244s
20    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1m27.143s*

*Five-place grid penalty for gearbox change

7 thoughts to “Hamilton takes Australian Grand Prix pole from Vettel”

  1. Qualifying review as reported by Formula1.com.

    There was huge disappointment for the Melbourne crowd on Saturday afternoon, as local hero Daniel Ricciardo ended his qualifying session for the 2017 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix in the wall. Ahead of him, Mercedes and Ferrari juked it out for pole, with Lewis Hamilton edging Sebastian Vettel by a quarter of a second.

    Vettel’s result means the Scuderia will start a race from the front row for the first time since Singapore 2015. On the second row will be the respective Mercedes and Ferrari of Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen.

    With rain threatening, Ricciardo lost the rear of his Red Bull at Turn 14, skating across the gravel and planting the back of the car into the tyre barriers. That brought out the red flags with eight minutes of Q3 to go and the Australian ended up 10th on the grid.

    Max Verstappen was thus left to uphold Red Bull’s honour, which he duly did in fifth ahead of Romain Grosjean, who was a superb sixth for Haas. Williams’ Felipe Massa took seventh, followed by the Toro Rosso duo of Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat.

    Q1 had seen Hamilton fastest on 1m 24.191s from Raikkonen on 1m 24.352s and Verstappen on 1m 24.482s, all three on ultrasoft tyres, ahead of Bottas, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and Force India’s Sergio Perez, with Williams’ Felipe Massa pipping supersoft-shod Vettel for seventh.

    Running wide in the final corner cost rookie Antonio Giovinazzi his chance of Q2 for Sauber, as team mate Marcus Ericsson went ahead for P15. The Italian – standing in at late notice for Pascal Wehrlein – was thus the first Q1 faller with 1m 26.419s, ahead of Kevin Magnussen, who ruined his chances by running his Haas wide exiting Turn 12 and lapping in 1m 26.847s.

    McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne lost crucial time with a fuel pressure issue and then tyre warm-up problems while following 12th fastest team mate Fernando Alonso, and was 18th on 1m 26.858s ahead of rookie Lance Stroll on 1m 27.143s for Williams. The Canadian is set to start last, however, as he will get a five grid-place penalty for a gearbox change after his FP3 accident.

    Jolyon Palmer’s horrible weekend continued as he was only 20th for Renault, on 1m 28.244s.

    Bottas went to the front in Q2 with 1m 23.215s from Hamilton on 1m 23.251s. Intriguingly, Raikkonen and Vettel were right there too, on 1m 23.376s and 1m 23.401s, but Ricciardo lagged with 1m 23.989s ahead of Verstappen, Massa, Grosjean, Kvyat and Sainz. Everyone used ultrasofts.

    Perez was the first to lose out, for Force India, on 1m 25.081s ahead of Renault’s Hulkenberg on 1m 25.091s. Alonso was 13th for McLaren on 1m 25.425s despite loss of power, as Esteban Ocon took his Force India to 14th on 1m 25.568s ahead of Ericsson’s Sauber on 1m 26.465s.

    There was thus huge expectation as Mercedes and Ferrari set off to slog it out for pole in Q3, with Red Bull waiting to see what pieces they might pick up. Just to spice things up, some felt a few drops of rain.

    For a few minutes we had some grand driving that held the promise of the great season that lies ahead. Bottas set the pace with 1m 22.798s, only for Vettel to snatch away the advantage with 1m 22.796s, before Hamilton got it back for Mercedes with 1m 22.496s. Raikkonen was left a trifle breathless on 1m 23.435s, but things were worse for Ricciardo, as he spun his Red Bull out of contention. Ironically, by the time the session restarted the sun had come back out.

    This time Bottas went back ahead, with 1m 22.481s, before Hamilton once again dramatically undercut him with 1m 21.188s for pole. But Ferrari were close, and Vettel’s 1m 22.456s put the red car alongside the silver arrow at the front. With Raikkonen improving, but only to a below-par 1m 23.033s, the two big teams shared the honours and set the stage for a great race.

    Behind them, Verstappen lined his Red Bull up fifth on a disappointing 1m 23.485s, while the sensational Grosjean planted the Haas solidly in sixth place with 1m 24.074s.

    Massa put Williams seventh with 1m 24.443s, ahead of the Toro Rossos of Sainz and Kvyat on 1m 24.487s and 1m 24.512s. The subdued Ricciardo was 10th, without a time.

    Thus the provisional grid will line up: Hamilton, Vettel; Bottas, Raikkonen; Verstappen, Grosjean; Massa, Sainz; Kvyat, Ricciardo; Perez, Hulkenberg; Alonso, Ocon; Ericsson, Giovinazzi; Magnussen, Vandoorne; Palmer, Stroll.

  2. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo caught out by “violent” spin which ended his qualifying. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Daniel Ricciardo says the spin that denied him the chance to set a Q3 lap was “violent and aggressive” thanks to the extra grip generated by the 2017-spec Formula 1 cars.

    The Australian was on his first flying lap in Q3 when he lost the rear of the Red Bull at Turn 14, skidding backwards through the sand trap and nudging the barrier.

    The mistake cost him any chance of fighting for a spot in the top half of the top 10 at his home race, Ricciardo admitting that it was his first insight into how hard the new-spec cars can bite.

    “It happened quickly, I could feel rear was on the edge, it was starting to come around,” he said. “I tried to catch it but it came around.

    “As the result of more downforce and more grip, when you lose it it is a lot more violent and aggressive – so it caught me out.

    “There is still a bit to learn and don’t tend to find myself in the barriers much, so it’s a bit of an odd sight to see me in to the barrier. The cars have more grip, which makes them stick to the track more – but when it goes wrong they bite a bit harder.

  3. This was a difficult qualifying session for McLaren-Honda with Fernando Alonso commented that this insists is “nothing to celebrate”. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Fernando Alonso said qualifying 13th for the Australian Grand Prix was “nothing to celebrate”, the McLaren driver insisting he wants to be fighting for victories.

    Despite fears that McLaren-Honda could be among the bottom qualifiers, Alonso made it into Q2 quite comfortably and will start the race from the sixth row of the grid.

    Although the Spaniard said he had managed to extract every bit of performance from his car, he conceded 13th on the grid was not what he wanted.

    “I think I extracted the maximum from the car, so I’m happy in that sense. But probably there’s nothing to celebrate being 13th,” said Alonso.

    “But we weren’t sure where we were in terms of competitiveness and reliability. Reliability wise we have been able to run more or less without problems and now in qualifying we are 13th.

    “We have to wait a few races to know where we really are, but there’s a long way to go.”

    Alonso, whose team had struggled for mileage during winter testing, said the weekend had at least been less troubled than expected.

  4. Renault’s Jolyon Palmer has slated his car after a disastrous performance which resulted in him qualifying on the back row for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

    Following his crash in second practice on Friday, Palmer was only 19th in FP3 this morning in his rebuilt car.

    But his qualifying performance was even worse, not helped by a fuel system problem on his first run. His 1m28.244s was over a second off the next-slowest car, the Williams of Lance Stroll.

    “We had a fuel surge on the first run, so I didn’t do a lap,” said Palmer. “My second lap was the first of the weekend on ultrasoft and to be honest the car was awful.

    “Yesterday the car was feeling good before I crashed, which was my bad, but I was really happy with the car at least and showing something sensible in the lap times.

    “Today, the car was put back together, I have to thank the guys, but it’s actually a disaster. I’m a second off what I did on my second lap in FP1, which is pretty terrible.

    “The brakes are terrible, the balance is pretty horrible and the traction is terrible.”

    Palmer will start ahead of Stroll, however, due to the Canadian’s grid penalty.

    Source: Motorsport.com

  5. Verstappen says 2017 Formula 1 races “will be more boring”. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Red Bull’s Max Verstappen claims whoever leads after the first corner of the Australian Grand Prix will win, because the new rules for 2017 will make the racing “more boring”.

    When asked by Sky Sports F1’s Damon Hill if the new regulations are the right way to go for F1, Verstappen replied: “In terms of driving, yes, absolutely, it’s a lot faster and a lot more enjoyable – especially in qualifying when you take out the fuel, in the high-speed corners it’s really hooked.

    “But in terms of racing, I think it will be more boring because tomorrow who takes first into Turn 1 will win the race.”

    Verstappen also said that the new breed of cars are more likely to spin due to a handling imbalance, after watching a replay of teammate Daniel Ricciardo crashing out of Q3 in Melbourne.

    “With the tyres, they’re quite wide at the rear now, and as soon you lose it, it’s really difficult to catch it, just because you lose a lot of grip suddenly,” he added. “That’s what I experienced in Barcelona when I had a moment.

    “Normally, when you have a good balance in the car, and you don’t have an oversteer, they’re actually easier to drive.”

    Verstappen will start Sunday’s Melbourne season opener from fifth on the grid, as said his Red Bull lacks grip as well as power.

    “Of course not good enough,” he said. “But after a troubled weekend, and basically I saw it coming after winter testing that this was the best we could do.

    “Tricky balance in the car. All the time when we change something, it changes quite a lot in terms of oversteer or understeer and basically not having the pace.

    “Of course we’re still down on power, but also in terms of grip level I think we are not the same compared to Ferrari and Mercedes yet.

    “I just need a clean start, because we don’t have the pace to challenge the Ferraris and the Mercedes – I’m realistic.”

  6. Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas says he is far from overawed with his qualifying performance in Melbourne, despite sealing his best-ever grid position at Albert Park and getting within 0.3s of what would have been his first Formula One pole.

    On his first qualifying appearance with new team mate Lewis Hamilton, Bottas had topped Q2 but then struggled to match Hamilton’s performance jump in the final Q3 shootout. While he did at one stage hold provisional pole, he ultimately finished 0.293s in arrears – and was then bumped down to third by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

    “Third is not ideal – I think in general I’m not happy for the result,” said Bottas, whose previous best qualifying in Australia was sixth. “Myself I didn’t quite get any perfect laps in, so I’m not that satisfied.

    “But tomorrow is the day that matters – it seems that we have been quite strong on the practice starts, so hopefully we can keep that going tomorrow.”

    Bottas said he could, however, take pride in the performance of his new team, after the Silver Arrows recorded their 15th consecutive pole position.

    “I’m really proud for what the team have done,” Bottas added. “I only saw a small part of the preparation but it’s really nice to see all the work has paid off.”

    Hamilton too paid tribute to Mercedes, after claiming a sixth pole in Australia – equalling Ayrton Senna’s record for the race.

    “It’s quite amazing to come here for I think the 11th time – it feels like only yesterday I had my first race here in 2007,” he said. “It’s been a great journey.

    “I’m incredibly proud of my team – the rule change has been huge, a massive challenge for everyone, and the guys have worked just so hard to make this car what it was today.

    “I think Valtteri did a fantastic job in his first qualifying session, which is great for us. And obviously it’s close between us [and Ferrari]. As you can see it’s going to be a close race between us this year I think.”

    Source: Formula1.com

  7. Force India’s Sergio Perez has been reprimanded for his incident during qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix.

    Perez had exceeded the maximum time set by race direction between the safety car lines at the end of qualifying, a breach of article 27.4 of the sporting rules.

    Perez explained: “I had an issue with this place so I went out of it so I lost my reference, in the end, I end up being too slow, so that was the issue.”

    The Mexican was therefore given his first reprimand of the season, but has kept his 11th place on the grid.

    The race stewards said: “The Stewards heard from the driver, Sergio Perez and Team Representative and determined that he did exceed the time specified by the FIA in Event Document 10 by slightly more than 4 seconds and was not impeded by any other driver and therefore was driving unnecessarily slowly in violation of Art. 27.4 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.

    “As Perez did not impede any other driver, the Stewards considered a Reprimand sufficient.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *