Lewis Hamilton dominated today’s qualifying session to claim the first pole position of the season at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix, ahead of Nico Rosberg.
Hamilton managed to edge out his team mate, Rosberg, by a whopping 0.594 seconds to clinch pole for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix. Contrasting to last season where it was Rosberg who held the advantage on a Saturday, despite Lewis being regarded as one of, if not the, fastest driver across a single lap. In the end Nico out qualified Lewis by 12 to 7 in 2014.
Going into qualifying Hamilton got the better of Rosberg and Vettel in FP3 after the Ferrari provided the best challenge to the Mercedes. However Rosberg struggled to link up a perfect lap in the final practice session, and he held the advantage over Hamilton in both FP1 and FP2.
But when Q1 kicked off at Albert Park, Toro Rosso’s rookie driver Carlos Sainz immediately took to the track. Like most, Carlos started on the medium compound tyres. Whereas Ferrari decided to send out their men on the soft tyres, allowing Raikkonen to slot into P1 just to be bettered by Vettel as other drivers struggled to stay on track.
Unlike Ferrari, Mercedes were confident enough to send out their drivers for one run on the medium tyres. But that confidence was justified when Hamilton slotted into third after his first timed lap. In the subsequent laps, Rosberg moved ahead of the Ferrari’s but it was Lewis leaping into P1.
By now, all of the field bar Marussia had taken to the track. But it was the Toro Rosso rookies who were flying around Albert Park. Once the team had bolted on the soft tyres, Verstappen was even able to slot into third. A very contrasting result to Red Bull who continued to struggle.
But their struggles were nothing compared to McLaren who sat rock bottom of the leaderboard and out of qualifying in the first stage. Both Button and Magnussen’s best lap times were also over 90 seconds worse than Hamilton’s, despite using the faster tyres.
McLaren were joined out of qualifying in Q1 by Ericsson (16th) and the two non-running Marussia’s.
Jumping forward into Q2, Felipe Nasr posted the first time with a 1:29:614. Unsurprisingly, the Mercedes duo once again leapt to the top of the leaderboard once they completed their timed laps. Yet now Hamilton was in P1 after a 1:26:894 on the soft compound tyres.
However things were not going perfectly for the Silver Arrows despite sitting in another 1-2 position, as Rosberg radioed in to report his engine was cutting out as he made his way through turn 15. Given the amount of mileage Mercedes managed during pre-season testing and the fact they used just one engine, reliability concerns were rather unexpected.
When the chequered flag fell to mark the end of Q2, Ricciardo managed to draw his Red Bull into the top 10. But his new team mate was unable to do the same and fell out of qualifying. Kvyat was even out-qualified by the Sauber of Nasr who almost made it into the top 10 shoot-out.
However Nasr was edged out of the top 10 and finished Q2 in 11th, with Verstappen, Kvyat, Hulkenberg and Perez behind him. Meaning Q3 would involve both Mercedes, both Ferrari’s, both William’s, a Toro Rosso, a Red Bull and both Lotuses. A phenomenal turn around for the now Mercedes powered Lotuses after a poor 2014.
But for the start of Q3 it was the Lewis Hamilton show as the Brit rocketed to the top of the leaderboard, over a second clear of the field. Lewis lap of 1:26:419 was an insane marker for others to try and match, but no one could get close after their first runs.
Bottas’ first lap started off scrappy so the Finn ditched it and returned to the pits. Unfortunately for him, his last lap of the day also ended scrappily meaning he missed his chance to claim a high finish.
Rosberg also started Q3 poorly, running off the track at turn 15 and filling into the pit lane. When he later returned to the track, he managed to carry out a full lap on the circuit to register a competitive time. Yet it was still half a second down on Lewis’ original marker.
Now everyone on track was pushing hard and making gains, allowing the Ferrari’s of Raikkonen and Vettel to slot behind the Silver Arrows. But they were about to be upstaged as Massa who stormed into third.
Elsewhere, Ricciardo had to settle for seventh behind Bottas. With Sainz qualifying in eighth for his F1 debut. The two Lotuses of Grosjean and Maldonado round off the top 10 and will start tomorrow’s race inside the points.
But the story of qualifying today was the dominance shown by the reigning Formula One Drivers World Champion, Lewis Hamilton. The Briton proved the Silver Arrow’s have pulled even further away from the field than with the WO5 last year and Mercedes are set to contest another title between themselves.
- Hamilton (1:26:327)