Grand Prix of Australia – Qualifying

It seems like forever since the end of the 2014 season, but Formula One is finally back! Did you realise it’s been over 100 days?

In case you missed it, I posted the 2015 Calendar and the Drivers & Constructors info way back at the start of February. Since then…

  • Alonso had an accident in pre-season practice and will sit out this weekend due to the concussion he sustained. [FIA] [BBC]
    Kevin Magnussen gets the seat but the rumour is that McLaren are off the pace and may struggle to make it into Q2!
  • Giedo van der Garde won a series of court battles with Sauber [BBC] which means the team would have to decide whether to bench Marcus Ericsson or Felipe Nasr … or risk having their assets seized and team principal Monisha Kaltenborn arrested.
    Despite parading around the garage in race overalls, van der Garde has now decided he doesn’t want to race in Australia! [BBC] [FIA]
  • Manor Marussia got the OK to race [BBC] and announced their drivers as Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi.

All of which means the line-up for this weekend’s Grand Prix looks like this:

Team Drivers (number)
Mercedes Lewis Hamilton (44) Nico Rosberg (6)
Red Bull Racing Daniel Ricciardo (3) Daniil Kvyat (26)
Williams Felipe Massa (19) Valtteri Bottas (77)
Ferrari Sebastian Vettel (5) Kimi Raikkonen (7)
McLaren Jenson Button (22) Fernando Alonso (14) Kevin Magnussen (##)
Force India Nico Hulkenberg (27) Sergio Perez (11)
Toro Rosso Max Verstappen (33) Carlos Sainz Jr (55)
Lotus Romain Grosjean (8) Pastor Maldonado (13)
Sauber Marcus Ericsson (9) Felipe Nasr (12)
Marussia Will Stevens Roberto Mehri

Tyre compounds for the first four races have been announced:

Race Primes Options
Australia medium soft
Malaysia hard medium
China medium soft
Bahrain medium soft

OK, so can we finally get on with some racing? πŸ™‚

Mercedes almost dominated the free practice sessions. FP1 times were topped by ROS (1:29.557), HAM and BOT; FP2 was ROS (1:27.697), HAM and VET; and FP3 was HAM (1:27.867), VET and ROS.

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
Radio for MAS: wind dropped a little but still cloudy
Air temperature 28°C; track 37°C
Green light for the start of Q1
SAI first on track in the Toro Rosso
Marussia have a software problem which will prevent either car from taking part in Qualifying
SAI 1:33.094
MAL fights his Lotus through Turn 1
VES 1:32.851 (note: Verstappen is “VES” because Jean-Eric Verne is already “VER” and as Ferrari’s test driver he may drive this season)
NAS 1:32.540
Radio from HAM complaining about a lot of vibration
RAI 1:30.138 but he’s on options (soft compound)
VET 1:29.307, also on options
HUL runs wide in Turn 1 and skirts the edge of the gravel trap
SAI touches the grass under braking and spins
HAM P3, fastest of the prime tyre runners
BOT P2, splitting the Ferraris
HAM 1:28.586
ROS P2
3mins left of Q1; MAL=P16, SAI=P17, KVY just leaving the pits;
MAL to P9 and ERI to P15, relegating the McLaren drivers MAG & BUT to the drop zone
BUT is almost 0.1sec behind ERI, so he may not escape Q1
KVY manages one timed lap and goes P12, pushing ERI back into the drop zone
Chequered flag
BUT on a final quick lap but can only manage P17

Back of the grid will be: ERI, BUT, MAG and the two Marussia drivers if they get the OK to race

Qualifying session 2 (Q2)
Green light but again no rush to get on track
NAS first on track
Track temperature continues to drop
NAS 1:29.614
BOT 1:28.012
HAM 1:26.894
(ROS P2)
Radio from ROS saying engine cut in one turn!
Radio from VES worried by something pushing into his shoulder
Everyone in the pits readying for a final run
HAM gets out of his Mercedes, confident in getting through to Q3
HUL on track all on his own
2mins left of Q2; bottom 5 are HUL, KVY, NAS, PER, MAL* (*no time)
Track gets busy as most cars are out for a final flier
Chequered flag
Lots of improvements
Bottom 5 are NAS, VES, KVY, HUL, PER

Qualifying session 3 (Q3)
Battling over the top 10 spots are HAM, ROS, VET, BOT, RAI, MAS, GRO, SAI, RIC, MAL
BOT first on track, 90 seconds into the session
Everyone on soft tyres of course
BOT untidy in both Turn 1 and T2
RAI 1:28.892
HAM 1:26.419
(VET P2)
ROS runs wide in T15 and heads straight into the pits
4mins left of Q3; order is HAM, VET, MAS, RAI, MAL, RIC, GRO, SAI; no time from ROS or BOT
(RIC P3)
Chequered flag
(RAI P3)
(BOT 4)
(ROS P2)
HAM 1:26.327
(MAS P3)
Front of the grid: HAM, ROS, MAS, VET, RAI, BOT, RIC, SAI, GRO, MAL.

BOT seems to be hobbling as he and HAM head to the weigh-in.
BOT rubbing his lower back – did he hurt his back during Quali?

Provisional grid: HAM, ROS, MAS, VET, RAI, BOT, RIC, SAI, GRO, MAL; NAS, VES, KVY, HUL, PER; ERI, BUT, MAG.
The two Marussia drivers (STE and MER) are unlikely to race after a software problem preventing the cars running in free practice or qualifying. [BBC]

2 Replies to “Grand Prix of Australia – Qualifying”

  1. Looks like I was right about BOT hurting his back:

    “Williams driver Valtteri Bottas’s participation in the Australian Grand Prix is in doubt after he suffered a back problem during qualifying.” [BBC]

    “Valtteri Bottas will undergo Sunday morning medical checks to assess his fitness after he suffered back pains during qualifying in Australia.” [FIA]

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