Saturday, March 14, 2015

Lewis Hamilton stamps his authority in Melbourne – Qualifying Report

Lewis Hamilton has taken an authoritative pole position for tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix. He will start ahead of Nico Rosberg and Williams' Felipe Massa. 

Q1:

Cooler track conditions from FP3 greeted the drivers as the lights went green for Q1. Two minutes passed before anyone decided to head out on track, before Carlos Sainz & Pastor Maldonado made a beeline for the circuit. Carlos was first to set a time, a 1.33.094, on a lap set on the medium tyres. Pastor Maldonado, Daniel Ricciardo & Lewis Hamilton were also early on track and struggling to make their apexes as the Ferraris came out on track with soft tyres. As a result, the first representative time of the session was Kimi Raikkonen, a 1.30.188. This was quickly beaten by Vettel, a 1.29.3.

With Manor unable to take part in qualifying due to their ongoing software problems, the pressure was slightly off teams like Force India & McLaren to make Q2, but that didn't stop Nico Hulkenberg from trying as hard as he could. So exuberant were his efforts that he flew off the track at Turn 1, continuing without damage. Nico Rosberg plonked himself into 4th with his first flyer, set on the medium tyres, eclipsed by Valtteri Bottas. The Renault engined drivers complaints of drivability continued into qualifying, with Daniel Ricciardo very unhappy with his RB11, and Carlos Sainz spinning his STR10 into the penultimate corner. Raikkonen's next lap put himself into second, while Lewis Hamilton elevated himself to 3rd, before Valtteri Bottas pipped them both to jump into second place. With 7 minutes remaining, Nico Rosberg took top spot with a 1.28.9 on the medium tyres.

Green light – first #Quali of the 2015 #F1 season is on! Marcus and Felipe are out on track #AusGP http://ift.tt/1wGRids

— Sauber F1 Team (@SauberF1Team) March 14, 2015

The McLarens were still struggling during Q1. Jenson Button set a 1.32.3 to loiter just outside the top ten, while Kevin Magnussen was marginally faster in front of him. As Lewis Hamilton set a 1.28.5 on the medium tyres to take the fastest time away from Nico, it emerged that Daniil Kvyat's FP3 problems had caused a small exhaust fire in his RB11, damaging a wiring loom. This meant the team had to spend Q1 working frantically to rectify the problem and send him back out on track. They succeeded with only a handful of minutes remaining in the session. Maldonado & Sainz were the two men struggling to get into the Top 15 to make it into Q2, but both bolted on the soft tyres to get themselves out of immediate trouble.

Steven Tee/McLarenSteven Tee/McLaren

A flurry of soft tyre laps elevated Verstappen, Grosjean, Sainz and Ricciardo into the top 10, meaning it was the two McLarens in the drop zone with the Manors & Daniil Kvyat. The pressure was on the young Russian in his first qualifying for a front running team, as he was only given the chance to set one flying lap. This lap was good enough to get into Q2, dropping Ericsson out. Both McLarens had the time to try another flying lap, but neither succeeded in getting into Q2. This meant Button was knocked out in Q1 for the first time in three years, and meant McLaren start from the back row of the grid.

Eliminated: 

  • Marcus Ericsson, Sauber
  • Jenson Button, McLaren
  • Kevin Magnussen, McLaren
  • Will Stevens, Manor Marussia DNQ
  • Roberto Merhi, Manor Marussia DNQ

Q2:

With the time pushing on towards 5.30pm local time, the track conditions continued to cool. Dropping to 29 degrees, the order of the day was soft tyres as the drivers set off in Q2. The first timed lap was set by Felipe Nasr, a 1.29.6, followed quickly by Nico Hulkenberg who was 0.3 seconds slower. Valtteri Bottas was first of the expected frontrunners to set a time, a 1.28.0 to go fastest, but with the Mercedes on track, this wouldn't last long.

Hamilton was the first of the Merc duo to cross the line, and he set a 1.26.8 to go 1.2 seconds faster than the Williams driver. Rosberg joined his team-mate up at the front, but was 0.2 seconds slower, settling into second place. Daniel Ricciardo took fourth place in the Red Bull, but was promptly taken by Carlos Sainz in the junior Red Bull. Armed with the soft tyres, the Ferraris attempted to take on the Mercs, with Kimi setting a 1.28.004. Vettel went marginally faster on a 1.27.742, meaning it was the Ferraris who were closest on soft tyre pace to the Mercs, with the Williams pair just edged out into the 5th and 6th positions.

.@LewisHamilton currently king of sectors 2/3 with VET fastest in the first. Just under 5mins of Q2 to run… #F1 #AusGP #F1DownUnder

— MERCEDES AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) March 14, 2015

In the dropzone were Kvyat, Nasr, Hulkenberg, Perez & Maldonado. The Lotus driver hadn't yet appeared with 4 minutes remaining in the session. Hulkenberg failed to get out of the drop zone on his next flyer, but elevated himself to 11th ahead of Kvyat & Nasr. As the chequered flag fell, Ricciardo raised a cheer as he put in a 1.28.6 to put himself in 6th spot, but his team-mate Kvyat fell short and could only manage 12th. Pastor Maldonado put in his one and only run and made it into Q3 by just 0.074 seconds in 10th spot, and while Felipe Nasr looked as though he'd performed the necessary heroics to get into Q3, he had to settle for 11th on his qualifying debut.

Eliminated:

  • Felipe Nasr, Sauber
  • Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso
  • Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull Racing
  • Nico Hulkenberg, Force India
  • Sergio Perez, Force India
Red Bull Content PoolRed Bull Content Pool

Q3:

The 12 minute Q3 session got underway with the wind slightly starting to pick up as evening set in. Valtteri Bottas was first man out on track, quickly followed by the Lotus drivers & Daniel Ricciardo. Bottas started his flying lap, but seemed slightly distracted by drawing alongside a car coming out of the pitlane into Turn 1, and ran a little wide. He also missed his braking point into Turn 3, and radioed in to complain about a lack of braking power.

Just after Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest time on a 1.28.8, Lewis Hamilton smashed in a 1.26.4, a full 2.4 seconds faster than Raikkonen's time. Vettel popped himself between Lewis & Kimi on a 1.27.7, as Nico Rosberg made an error into the penultimate corner that seemed to catch out so many throughout Q1. He ran wide onto the grass, and aborted his run to immediately return to the pitlane. Felipe Massa also ran wide at the same corner, although not to the same extent. The Williams driver split the Ferraris and sat in third spot as the clock ticked down past 4 minutes to go.

Meanwhile, Rosberg has been on the grass as he looks to keep pace with his team-mate #AusGP #Quali http://ift.tt/1EkVTC4

— Formula 1 (@F1) March 14, 2015

There was a brief lull then as the drivers returned to the pits for their final set of tyres. Ricciardo was the first man to finish his run, and set a 1.28.3, a time good enough for 3rd spot. Raikkonen immediately beat that to take the same third spot and put himself ahead of Bottas. Nico Rosberg popped in a time good enough for second place, but was a full half second behind Lewis as the reigning Champion decided to put in another laptime good enough for pole position and beat his own best time by another 0.1 seconds.

At the very death of the session, Felipe Massa sprung up the leaderboard and snatched away third place from both Ferraris, a time which Valtteri Bottas couldn't match as he slid through the final corner and had to settle for 6th place.

@Formula1@Formula1

The post Lewis Hamilton stamps his authority in Melbourne – Qualifying Report appeared first on FormulaSpy.

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