brought to you by TJ13 contributor Mattpt55
A dazzling day in Albert Park 29ºC with the track at 38ºC and dry, and a 3.3mps wind, the technical term for which is windy. With the soap opera at Sauber temporarily settled it was down to business for the teams, having survived the plethora of deadly flora and fauna of Oz, as well as the horrors of substandard accommodations for those teams bunking on Bernie’s dime.
With Manor unable to get on top of their software issues, the big story became McLaren’s lockout of the last row, with Button barely avoiding the ignominy of starting dead last after the checkers fell at the end of Q1.
Further up the grid it rapidly became apparent that the boys at Red Bull were indeed at best level with the car of Toro Rosso, given their weekendus horribilus. Ricciardo basically had no running in FP2 and FP3 which was only made better when Kvyat’s car had an exhaust fire near the end of FP3. Still Danny boy wrung the neck of his car and managed an appearance in Q3, with the chassis looking promising should they ever get on top of their engine mapping.
The biggest surprise at the sharp end had to be the sparkling performance of both Ferrari drivers with Vettel and Raikkonen taking P4 and P5 respectively with good long run pace on board.
It’s been obvious since Jerez that top spot belonged to Merc and despite a few nervous moments early in Q1, they did not fail to deliver (or disappoint, depending on your viewpoint) by utterly crushing the opposition. Despite the early practices belonging to Rosberg, after a changed torsion bar in FP3 it was all Hamilton’s show and he wound up seizing pole by 0.6s over Nico, and nearly 1.3s ahead of Massa in P3
As the lights went green to inaugurate the 2015 season it was Maldonado first to grace the circuit with his Lotus, followed by Sainz in the Toro Rosso. Shortly after Verstappen followed his teammate with Grosjean not far behind and an early appearance was put in by Ricciardo as well, no doubt anxious to get some extra track time in during the lengthy first session.
By the 16 minute mark it was a party with everyone rolling out of the pits at the same time the early birds were finishing bringing their tyres up to temperature
Early doors was Sainz taking P1 despite a little lockup with Maldonado chasing, but Pastor locked it up and lost the rear trying to better Carlos’ time. Meanwhile the Ferrari’s just had to be different by taking to the track on the Soft tyre whilst the rest of the runners were on the Mediums.
Hamilton took time out from his outlap to help with landscaping, running wide and cutting some overgrown grass.
Whilst he was thus engaged, Raikkonen took advantage of the Softs he was running to go P1 with a 1:30.1, though that was quickly to fall to his teammate as Vettel came through with a 1:29.3, both cars looking quite hooked up on the circuit. AS 12 minutes ticked by, behind them it was Bottas and Massa taking P3 and P4, though both of them were on the Mediums and the Mercedes had yet to set times
With the other shoe waiting to drop, Nico Hulkenberg decided to get some TV time for his sponsors by taking a quick trip to the beach in T1 while Ricciardo’s time was dropping like a stone down the sheets. He stopped the bleeding at P10 and managed to claw his way back to P8. AS that drama played out Hamilton on the Mediums set his first time, good for a temporary P3 as the halfway point of the session approached.
While that was occurring, Sainz managed to spin his car in the exact same place as he did in FP3, proving that practice *does* pay off.
Taking advantage of that distraction, Bottas splits the Scuderia pair by nipping P2 and then Rosberg has to go be all obvious and take P1 on the Medium tyre with a 1:28.906, whilst the McLarens, already on the Softs, were languishing in P11 and 12. Kvyat’s mechanics, in the meantime, had finally managed to screw his car back together after it had ignited near the end of FP3 and Danii rocked his way out of the garage to try and make Q2.
With 4 minutes left it was Nasr, Maldonado and Sainz languishing at the bottom of the time sheets, while at the other end Hamilton confirmed his FP3 performance by going 0.3s faster than Rosberg, though not without looking a little twitchy.
As Maldonado began his efforts to lift himself up the charts, Hamilton rolled into the pits along with the rest of the top 5, Rosberg, Vettel, Bottas and Raikkonen.
With the end of the session looming, all eyes were on Kvyat as he made his first and only run to escape the drop zone, but as he ramped it up it was to be Sainz first to make his move, up to P5. Hot on his heels, Verstappen made it P3 and quite a show for the Toro Rosso tykes in their first F1 qualifying session.
A flurry of fast times hit the boards as the checkers dropped but it was Kvyat who escaped, leaving the only drama which of the McLarens would start dead last given the fact that Manor weren’t running. On this day, it was Button who proved to be fastest of the slow, edging his luckless teammate into P18 and confirming Macca’s thoroughly appalling back row lock out. Joining them in pit of shame would be Marcus Ericsson, for the moment thoroughly outclassed by his teammate.
Worth noting is the fact that only the Mercedes drivers and Bottas made it through on the Mediums, with the rest on Softs.
A thundering silence met the start of Q2 and it was well over a minute before Nasr finally blinked and rolled his Sauber out on track. To fill the silence, Sky let Christian Horner drone on incessantly about poor quality engine mapping by Renault giving non-linear throttle response being the cause of all his driver’s slowness, whilst conveniently ignoring the fact that Red Bull had insisted on “helping” with the software by delivering loads of experts to Viry Chatillon.
Mercifully, the new, better miked engines quickly put an end to the talking as Hulkenberg joined followed by Bottas and Perez. Clouds started rolling in and the track temperature began dropping rapidly, down to 29ºC.
With the pair on their hot runs, the rest of the field began emerging from the pits, everyone on Softs this time around.
First Raikkonen then Bottas started throwing purples everywhere, but then in walked Hamilton, erasing everyones best efforts.
AS 9 minutes went by first it was Bottas to the top with a 1:28.012, but he was immediately stomped by Hamilton coming home with a 1:26.894, a time that no one was going to touch.
That wasn’t going to stop Rosberg from trying, but even though he toppled Bottas from P2, he was still 0.2s off Lewis, whilst reporting that the engine cut out in T15.
At the back, Kvyat, Nasr, Hulkenberg, Perez and Maldonado lingered in the shadow of doom whilst Ricciardo managed a trip round the circuit at just the right time to grab P4 while no one was looking.
After everyone cycled through the pits for new tyres, it was Verstappen complaining of something pushing on his right shoulder and sounding anxious while Hulkenberg looked to have strung together a lap that would keep him in Q3. Until, of course, the last turn where he ran it wide and just about lost it altogether, costing him P10 by the narrowest of margins.
The flying of the checkers brought a blizzard of times, with Grosjean Ricciardo and Verstappen p8-10 and looking to improve whilst the top 3 lounged about the garage, taking selfies and practicing their “I’m relaxed” poses.
First up was Ricciardo who came upon Vettel at a delicate moment in his hot lap, though whatever ill feelings might exist between Vettel and his former employer did not influence Seb as he stayed well clear of the Aussie’s efforts, which put him P6.
Next was Perez, P12, Hulkenberg P11, Maldonado on it and Raikkonen running for who knows what reason into P4. Maldonado scored P7 and on his heels it was Kvyat missing out with P11.
But no rest for weary fingers as Nasr surprised in the Sauber for P9 and Sainz took over P7 and no sooner did that occur than Grosjean took Nasr right back out Verstappen could only manage P12 having gotten a little throttle happy and given himself a rather big moment and Maldonado nailed the last spot with a P10.
That makes it Nasr, Verstappen, Kvyat, Hulkenberg and Perez doing the walk of shame whilst the rest moved on for one more go. And officially, at least for the moment, the Toro Rossos look to be the equal of the Red Bulls.
Again the opening minutes of the session feature rather a lot of sitting about in the garage. In the meantime the track dropped another degree and the humidity had ramped up to 62%.
First to get his feet wet was Bottas whilst again Christian Horner polluted the airwaves, admitting that it was to be a battle against Toro Rosso for them this round, bravely disillusioning all 4 people that hadn’t already figured that out and then going on to say that the Toro Rosso drivers were having similar troubles to Red Bull with the engine mapping.
Ricciardo and Grosjean changed the subject by taking to the track as the rest of the field, led by Raikkonen and Hamilton rolled out at predictable intervals.
Bottas started his first run just past the 9 minute mark and immediately locked it up into T1, spoiling his whole lap before it had begun. Hamilton, by contrast, was clearly on it, from the moment he hit the start finish. His S1 time of 28.7 was staggering compared to Rosberg’s 29.2 and he was relentless throughout the lap, finishing with a 1:26.419. Rosberg failed to set a time as he lost in the next to last corner and hit the grass, then rolled straight on into the pits.
Behind Hamilton it was Vettel in P2, Massa in P3 and Raikkonen in P4 and Maldonado P5 as they all boxed for their last set of tyres around the 5 minute mark. Vettel had set his time on new Softs, with Kimi on scrubs, but coming back out it was Raikkonen on the new tyres and Vettel on the scrubs.
But it was Ricciardo leading the way and Massa bringing up the rear out of the pits. Ricciardo hit the line with less than 2 minutes to go and as he set off it was Hamilton reporting vibrations in the tyres as Ricciardo tried to wring every last tenth out of his car. IT was a provisional P3 that was immediately superseded by Raikkonen, then Bottas slotting in between them for P4 as Lewis came round on an even hotter pace to finish with a 1:26.327
Rosberg came in P2 0.5s down and it was Massa snatching up the crumbs of P3 as Bottas had a huge moment on the kerbs that cost him dearly, as not only did he lose time and finish P6, but he also injured his back.
Vettel and Raikkonen filled in with P4 and P5 respectively, and Seb is starting to look nearly as smart as Lewis when it comes to team jumping, in stark contrast to Alonso, whose career may ultimately be defined as much by the cars he didn’t get to drive as by his talent.
Lotus too, have a renewed lease on life, at least as long as the cash holds out.
AS expected, the Death Star of Mercedes utterly dominated in terrifying fashion, but the real story was Bottas’ bad back, which saw him taken to hospital for checks post quali. Bottas will rest in his hotel and have an examination in the morning but at the moment, the team admits it could go either way. If it it’s bad enough, however, then it would be Susie Wolff stepping in tomorrow to race for Williams, who would then become the first woman since Lella Lombardi in the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix with a chance to score points, and only the 3rd woman ever to participate in a Formula 1 race, alongside Lombardi and Maria Teresa de Filippis.
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull|
|8||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso|
|12||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso|
|13||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull|
|14||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India|
|15||Sergio Perez||Force India|
I still feel had bottas nailed it it would have been a second row lock out by Williams
Yep.. the pace matches almost exactly what James Allen predicted from the tests.. Merc.. Williams.. Ferrari.. RB/TR.. Lotus, Sauber.. FI/McLaren.
No, It is Merc, Ferrari, Williams.
VET and RAI made mistakes.
It is also important to notice that the track temp. started to lower towards the end of the session. So aggressive drivers were in better position: MAS ag. BOT, SAI vs VER, RIC, HAM vs ROS
I don’t think there’s much between the Red, White and Purple (?) teams allowing for Renault’s poorly put together p!ss poor PU performance. I’m hoping for some tight racing between those six.cars.
MB? Maybe given them the WCC trophy, raffle the WDC between MB1 & MB2 and.then tell them to go home for 2015. Torger says that the race plan hasn’t changed from last year – stage-managed boredom in the main.
Probably right, it’s emerged Raikkonen had sectors for 1:27.4, while Bottas might have been faster than Massa.
That’s a good point noticing the track temp dipping, also if we were on super softs then we might expect e.g. Kimi to do better. Grosjean thumped Maldonado.
Would the Williams just not sit out? I can remember the 2009 Japanese GP, Kobayashi did FP1, Glock crashed in FP3, yet Kobayashi wasn’t allowed to step back in and do Q + R (an own goal if you think about it, Japanese driver/car/track hasn’t happened again since). Sorry to rain on the parade of seeing a woman race again in F1!
‘Hamilton took time out from his outlap to help with landscaping, running wide and cutting some overgrown grass.’ I’m still laughing now.
Thanks, if you see the pic you’ll know right away why I said that, Merc FW looks for all the world like its cutting the grass. LOL bet the midfield could make some extra dough running paydrivers in old cars and renting them out to farmers
Shouldn’t that headline read….
“Lewis halts a resurgent Rosberg to take pole”….
Sorry Adam, couldn’t help it 🙂 🙂
Haha Your boy did well. I changed my mind after watching FP3 and backed him, so I’ll take your stick happily.
Naw, I don’t celebrate until after the checkered flag on Sunday’s.
I remember in days past Kovalainen was getting a shellacking on track, and he was trying to raise his game and on couple occasions he boasted of having done better than Lewis in the FP sessions… Before Lewis toasted him in quali and race.
I often get the feeling that Lewis is leaving a couple percentage points in FP on the table, and dials it way up to the maximum and beyond once the sessions that matter commence: Quali and Race. So the rule of thumb seems to be never to assume that Hamilton is slower by the margin shown in FP… He never quite shows his hand in FP…
HAM was fundamentally faster after they changed the front torsion bar and ride height (per Sky reporting). He came back out and was just quicker. period. Not sure what would have happened if ROS had been able to make change, but HAM did it so late in FP3 that I don’t think Nico could’ve done it and gone back out to test.
Was originally going to add “Lewis takes Pole- Water Wet”
but then thought better of it. Save it for podcast
So if everyone could go ahead and forget all my driver battle predictions that would be grand.
Advanced payment on the Sainz vs Verstappen bet?
Sugar. Forgot about that. Note to self. No cash bets in the heat of a live stream.
It’s a long season. Little birdie at TR told me Verstappen will be physically restricted for the moment.
I’m half on the money. But the other half is down the toilet. Lotus amazes me…
Actually SR your boy was faster than Sainz, but he bollixed up his last lap. check Q1 results. I wouldn’t back down just yet
Pre-qually interview with Sky, Jenson Button said this about the McHonda and I quote….
“This is the car that will take the fight to the Mercedes”
I can see why Alonso called in sick.
I have a feeling that McHonda are indeed fundamentally very quick. Let’s wait until Honda can actually turn on their engine, before writing eulogies. It seems all those reports of Honda being way off schedule aren’t wide of the mark…
Yep, Italian media was spot on last year!
So was i. I predicted this. And y’all laughed at me 😉
I don’t think Susie would be allowed to step in as she didn’t take part in qualifying. This isn’t NASCAR where the car is qualified. In F1, IIRC it is the driver.
But couldn’t they use the ‘force majeure’ ruling?
Nope. No driver changes allowed after start of qualifying.
She would need the agreement of the stewards to take part, but with no running it would be almost impossible to justify.
Not after quali has started. Susie hasn’t qualified for the race – hence no start. If Bottas can’t drive, there’ll be only one williams. She would probably run Malaysia if Bottas is seriously injured.
Is that in the regs? I will look after, but perhaps she could race from pit lane? I think Bottas will be ok anyways. Give him one of those magic shots in the back, all set.
Yeah I don’t think it’s possible. Article 19 of the Sporting Reg’s talks about additional changes because of force majeure, but that’s if a team wants to run a 5th driver in a season.
I bet that if Williams ask to put Suzie in then it’s not about what the rules say. It will down to the whim of those making the decision.
Hippo and I disagree. There is a FM clause in driver changes.
19)CHANGES OF DRIVER19.1a)During a season each team will be permitted to use four drivers. Changes may be made at any time before the start of the qualifying practice session provided any change proposed after 16.00 on the day of scrutineering receives the consent of the stewards.Additional changes for reasons of force majeure will be considered separately.Any new driver mayscore points in the Championship.
Which seems to me to cover changes after quali, because otherwise, why include it at all since the Stewards have full discretion to make changes in the 48 hours that lead up to qualifying.
However, as they say, opinions differ so we shall have to wait and see.
Phew! I thought they would be late with the production of REC 5. Nope, bang on time…
A couple of points on these Reports:
– Can we have the name of the GP in the title? Say “#F1 Australian GP QUALIFYING REPORT: Lewis Hamilton on Pole”. This would allow for useful bookmarking, and easy search in the future. Otherwise, when trying to find a specific quali/race report a year later it can be a pain…
– Can we have actual quali times? Without those, it’s hard to realize how desperately horrifying Merc’s domination shall get this year.
– Can we have the times of all those booted out at the end of each Q section? When reading the report, it’s nice to get an idea of the factual times of those in the drop out zone
It was seeing Vettel and RAikonnen chatting after qually it struck me.. how odd it is that Ferrari has become the no bullshit and no drama team. The drivers, Allison, even Arrivebene, its the no nonsense team now… irony… perhaps we will see John Smiths beer sponsor them next year. Still, we’ll see how long that lasts!
I keep reading about how Ferrari was the best improving team. And today they were 1,5 secs off the pole. What a great improvement. I find it more like RedBulls are down now, but I do not really see Ferrari challenging Mercedes this year.
BTW, what the fuck have they done at the F1 website? it is impossible to find at what time is the race in my side of the world, if I go to the championship-races-australia menu there is not a single piece of basic information like…. lap times of the qualifying…
Been following F1 since the Senna/Prost era. This was the first time in 15 years that I did not get up early to watch qualifying in Australia and I will not get up early tomorrow to watch the race neither.
F1 is getting boring by the day, and their approach to their fans, through their website is going the opposite direction. First they took out the live timings, now they took away every single piece of information that could make their show more interesting.
They want you to sign up for their service is what’s happened. All the good stuff will be going behind a paywall.
That’s what I supposed. When they ran out of fans, they will wonder why.
I think Ferraris race pace will be the great improvement. After all that’s what’s it all about. I’d rather qualify 5th and come 3rd, those mercs gonna go sailing on the horizon, than to qualify 3rd and get no points at all. Wich I suspect for Danny.
Yeah, I too was bummed that the “Local Time” feature went missing – even after paying the $3.44US. However, I do look forward to using some of the more intensive charts during the GP (as matt says the good stuff is behind the paywall).
I may get the app then. That said, they say on the website it;s free until April 13th… but why do I have to pay then…
@ Adam – contrast that with McH where drama and bullshit are paramount.
(Wonder if there’s an Alonso common factor…..just thinking out loud 🙂
Wonder why Rosberg took the first turn in 3rd gear, rather than 4th as Hamilton did? That mistake cost him the remainder of his pole qualifying lap. I also don’t remember anyone asking him about it afterward.
Maybe he didn’t get to see Lewis’s data in time 🙂
Yeah maybe he didn’t ;-)… And Don Q – expanding on that thought would be cool (LH is in 4th and running lower revs rather than stomping on 3rd with higher revs?).
Hamilton drives different in that way. He is one of the only ones I’ve seen driving more on torque than revs. That is also why he uses less fuel than Rosberg.
Could you explain a little further for some of us who don’t really understand?…. Me that is
I’m with you there @Fortis96
Hamilton runs on a higher gear through corners. With the turbo cars you have more torque so the car will will pull through the corner at lower revs. Lower revs mean less fuel too.
V8 engines you had to rev higher to get power and you need power to balance the car through the corner. So if someone has not adapted their style they will drive on revs for power.
Hamilton is proving quite the master I must say. He is the only one I have seen that does this.
Good pole lap from Hamilton, just hope this time he gets a victory in the most uneventful way possible. Williams and Ferrari are looking good behind them. Bit surprised that Red Bull are behind them but it’s early days, Toro Rosso doing better than them at this stage looked odd but maybe they just got lucky with the wind and everything.
And McLaren-Honda, well I cannot bring myself to be sad for them, they do it every season one way or another (screwing up, that is). I’m sure Honda haven’t been able to turn their engine on completely but let’s face it : Mercedes are probably just running somewhere around 75% at worst (for the others) or 85% at best. Honda are up against it and despite having had 1 extra year to learn from others’ mistakes they aren’t in a state to challenge anyone.