Australian Grand Prix – Qualifying

With the Red Bulls fastest in the first and final practice sessions, and the McLarens topping the charts in practice 2, it looks like it could be the usual suspects on the front of the grid. Fastest over all the practice sessions was SV (1:24.507).

It’ll be interesting to see what happens to the drivers who fall foul of the 107% qualifying rule – will they get an exemption and start the race from the pit lane, as BBC reported yesterday?

TSN are off to a flying start with the coverage – where’s the sound? … OK, we have background noise but no commentators. #FAIL They should just take the whole BBC feed and stop trying to wrap their own thing around it. Leave it to people who actually care about what they do!

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
Pit lane lights turn green and VP is first to take to the track. [See my Who’s Who post for initials]
VP 1:29.463
(JD P2)
(JT P3)
(PR P2)
(TG P3)
NH touched the grass then locked his front left before running wide
(JD P3)
HK 1:29.254
NH 1:28.613
VP 1:27.396
SV 1:26.657
(LH P2)
(MW P2)
(JB P3)
MW 1:25.900
(FA P3)
SV 1:25.515 – just over a second off his quickest practice lap
LH 1:25.384
10mins left of Q1; yet to set a time are VL, NK, JA, NR, KK, SP & SB
SV 1:25.296
Nice rear-facing on-board shot showing MS use the moveable rear wing, which is officially called DRS, and telemetry showing him use KERS
5mins left; bottom 7 are PD, HK, JT, TG, JD, VL* & NK* (*The 2 HRT cars are yet to set a lap time)
TSN put up a banner saying commentator audio currently not available, just in case anyone’s not noticed for the past 20 minutes!
And a few seconds later the BBC commentary kicks in! 🙂
VL is on track … and something just flew off the car, right into the path of KK
And there’s goes the sound again 🙁 Come on TSN!
Ah, the HRTs have set lap times but they’re outside 107% of the current pole time so they’re not shown on the FIA on-screen info
Pit-car radio for FM telling him to push because he’s currently P17, i.e. only one spot above the cut
Chequered flag – the current lap will count, as usual
(NH P17, relegating FM)
(FM P11)
So the bottom of the field are: P18=NH, 19=HK, 20=JT, 21=TG, 22=JD, 23=VL, 24=NK

Qualifying session 2 (Q2)
Will the top teams try to get through Q2 on prime (hard) tyres or will they have to use a set of the softer options?
Martin Brundle continues Murray Walker’s legacy – moments after saying how Barrichello is the most experienced driver in the field, RB spins the Williams into the gravel at Turn 3 and is out of Q2 without setting a time!
SB 1:26.053
Everyone’s got to be careful when trying to set a lap time – the yellow flags for RB’s beached car means they have to back off, but the clock’s still running so they have to try to get through to Q3
MW and SV pit without setting a lap time on soft tyres – that could be expensive
Sound’s gone off again – TSN is a joke!
Yellow flags removed
NR 1:25.757
LH 1:25.522
JB 1:24.957
SV 1:24.090 – that’s the first Qualifying time to beat SV’s quickest Practice lap time, and only one tenth of a second off his pole time from this race last year
(MW P2)
Replay of NH kissing the wall with his rear right wheel
2mins left; bottom 7 are JA, MS, PM, PR, AS, RB, SP
AS spins the Force India as he exits the final corner – manages to keep it out of the wall and sets off on another lap
Chequered flag; bottom 7 are MS, JA, SP, PR, PM, AS, RB … but half the field are still on track
MS posts a personal best but can’t improve on P11
That means the midfield are: P11=MS, 12=JA, 13=SP, 14=PR, 15=PM, 16=AS, 17=RB

Qualifying session 3 (Q3)
Pit lane lights turn green but there’s no rush to get out there
LH exits the pits – yellow lettering on his Pirelli tyres, which means they’re the soft (option) compound
LH locks the front right in to Turn 3 again
SV is pushing really hard
LH 1:24.501
(JB P2)
(NR P3)
SV 1:23.529 – almost a full second faster than LH!
(MW P2)
Slow lap from FA – did he have an incident earlier in what should have been a flying lap?
FM has spun his Ferrari as he enters Turn 1 – he’d just left the pits
1min left; order is SV, MW, LH, JB, NR, KK, SB, FA – no time from FM or VP
(FA P5)
Chequered flag
SV on another flying lap, although there’s no real competition for pole … but doesn’t improve on his time
(LH P2)
Front of the grid will be: P1=SV, 2=LH, 3=MW, 4=JB, 5=FA, 6=VP, 7=NR, 8=FM, 9=KK, 10=SB

So the provisional grid is: SV, LH, MW, JB, FA, VP, NR, FM, KK, SB, MS, JA, SP, PR, PM, AS, RB, NH, HK, JT, TG, JD, VL*, NK*
*Outside the 107% time

FYI, here’s the 107% calculation (by my reckoning):

fastest time in Q1 = 1:25.296
107% time = 1:31.267, or +5.971secs

It’s worth noting that Heidfeld out-qualified his Mercedes teammate (MS) again.
Fastest of the new drivers was Perez in the Sauber (P13).

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