Grand Prix of Australia – Qualifying

With all that’s been going on, it doesn’t seem that long since the end of the 2016 season. In a nutshell, here’s what’s happened since November:

  • Rosberg won the Drivers’ Championship and Mercedes won the Constructors’ [points table]
  • Rosberg retired from F1 just a few days later [Rosberg on Facebook] [BBC]
  • That caused a new round of the “silly season”, including Bottas moving to Mercedes and the un-retirement of Massa [drivers list]
  • Manor Racing (MRT) went in to receivership, so the grid for 2017 is down to 20 cars [Manor Racing site]
  • Liberty Media completed their buy out of the FIA… [BBC]
  • …resulting in Bernie leaving F1 after almost 40 years [BBC] [BBC again]
  • New rules means a change to the look of the cars [BBC] [BBC again]
  • The so-called “Verstappen rule”, which banned a practice known as “moving under braking”, has been dropped [BBC]

So after all that, it’s time to focus on Melbourne:

  • Free Practice 1: HAM (1:24.220), BOT, RIC, VER, RAI
  • FP2: HAM (1:23.620), VET, BOT, RAI, RIC
    VER ran through a gravel trap and damaged the Red Bull’s floor
    ERI caused a virtual safety car when he got stuck in a gravel trap
    MAS stopped on track with an electric issue
    PAL lost it in the final turn and hit the wall, causing a temporary red flag
  • “Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein has pulled out of the Australian Grand Prix and will be replaced by Ferrari third driver Antonio Giovinazzi” … following “a back injury sustained in a crash in January’s Race of Champions.” [BBC]
  • FP3: VET (1:23.380), BOT, HAM, RAI, HUL
    VET beats the all-time lap time
    STR ran wide and clouted the wall with his rear right wheel – this resulted in a change of the gearbox and therefore a 5 grid spot penalty

Now we’re all caught up, it’s time for the first Qualifying session of the 2017 season 🙂

There are dark clouds in the distance – will it rain?

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
Green light – session has started
VAN was first out of the pits
Looks like most are heading out on ultra-soft tyres
Problem with the live timing info – no data
RAI runs a little wide and backs out of his quick lap
HAM a little slower than teammate BOT
VAN told to pit – fuel flow problem for the McLaren
8 mins left of Q1; order is BOT, HAM, VET, PER, MAS, SAI, RAI, GRO, KVY, OCO, MAG, ERI, ALO, GIO
HAM goes P1 – 1:24.191
VER locks up his front left; flat spots it, but he needs to set a time
Chequered flag
Back of the grid: GIO, MAG, VAN, STR*, PAL (*STR has a 5 place penalty to be added)

Qualifying session 2
Air temp dropping as the sun sets but also the clouds seem to be closing on the circuit
BOT 1:23.215
HAM 0.036sec slower but he’s on used tyres
Radio from ALO complaining of no power when he tried to accelerate out of a corner
5mins left of Q2; bottom 5 are HUL, GRO, OCO, ALO, ERI
Chequered flag
HUL to P9
ALO to P12
GRO to P7
PER to P11
Middle of the grid: PER, HUL, ALO, OCO, ERI
Apparently the timing info is wrong – HAM was on new ultras, not a used set
Replay of PER being held up by MAS

Qualifying session 3
Rain still threatening
Radio from RAI saying there’s rain
Radio from VER – just small drizzle
BOT 1:22.798
VET 1:22.796
HAM 1:22.496
RAI P4
RIC loses the tail, off across the gravel and into the tyre wall
Red flag – session suspended with 8:00 left of Q3
Radio from RIC confirming he’s OK
Green light to restart Q3 but no rush for anyone to leave the pits
GRO P5
Everyone heading out for a final run (except RIC, of course)
BOT 1:22.481
HAM 1:22.188
Chequered flag
VER P5
KVY P7
RAI P4
SAI P8
VET P2
Front of the grid: HAM, VET, BOT, RAI, VER, GRO, MAS, SAI, KVY, RIC*
*Will RIC need a new gearbox?
VET taking a good, long look at the cars in parc ferme

Provisional grid: HAM, VET, BOT, RAI, VER, GRO, MAS, SAI, KVY, RIC, PER, HUL, ALO, OCO, ERI, GIO, MAG, VAN, STR*, PAL (*STR has a 5 place penalty to be added)

That’s HAM’s 6th pole in Australia
VER says “whoever is first into Turn 1 will win the race” because it’s hard to overtake

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