Grand Prix of Australia – Qualifying


The F1 season kicks off in Australia as usual. I posted last month about the team and driver changes; as per previous years, I’ll be using drivers’ abbreviated names (e.g. HAM for Hamilton) just so I can keep up when I’m writing notes.

Sadly the season gets off to a sad start as Charlie Whiting, the F1 race director, died a couple of days ago. [BBC] Michael Masi, deputy race director of the Australian Supercars series, has been appointed race director for the Australian GP. [racefans]

Somewhat controversially the fastest race lap* will be rewarded with an additional point. The big asterisk in this new (well, re-introduced) rule is that drivers will only receive the extra point if they also finish in the top 10 in the race. [BBC]

Free Practice highlights:

  1. FP1: HAM (1:23.599), VET, LEC, VER, BOT, RAI, KVY, GAS, MAG, HUL, GIO, GRO, ALB, SAI, STR, PER, RIC, NOR, KUB, RUS
    BOT lost the tail into the penultimate turn; took to the escape road and spun the Mercedes back the right way round
    ALB, however, spun in Turn 2 and damaged both ends of his Toro Rosso
    KUB and PER both managed to throw up some dirt
  2. FP2: HAM (1:22.600), BOT, VER, GAS, VET, RAI
    RAI cut across the grass, as did some of the newbies and VET
    LEC spun his Ferrari but avoided any damage
  3. FP3: HAM (1:22.292), VET, LEC, GRO, MAG, GAS; NOR, RUS and KUB were the slowest three in all 3 sessions
    KUB tagged the wall at pit entrance
    McLaren released NOR right into the path of KUB; NOR was not penalised but McLaren were fined €5,000 for an unsafe release
    BOT apparently had steering issues


Qualifying Session 1 (Q1)
Green light marking the start of the first qualifying session of the 2019 season
Air temperature 27°C; track 37°C
NOR is first to leave the pit lane, followed by KUB
NOR 1:24.654 on soft tyres
KUB P2
RUS P2
VET 1:23.891 on medium tyres
RAI 1:23.432
LEC 1:23.326
GIO P2
KVY 1:23.313
HAM 1:22.681 on softs
BOT 1:22.658
PER P3
VET P3
VER only P6 on softs
RIC P7 in the Renault
BOT 1:22.377
5mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are MAG, STR, ALB, RUS, KUB
VER P3
HAM 1:22.043
MAG released right into the path of a Racing Point (STR?) – expect a penalty for unsafe release
Chequered flag; bottom 5 are MAG, STR, ALB, RUS, KUB
STR P8; SAI to P16
NOR P3; SAI P16
RAI P8; GIO P16
GIO P3; LEC P16
LEC 1:22.017; SAI P16
RIC P12; GAS P16
ALB P9; STR P16
Replay of KUB tagging the wall in P10; shredded his rear right tyre
Back of the grid: STR, GAS, SAI, RUS, KUB

Qualifying Session 2
HAM on his flying lap catching some newbies on their out laps
More traffic in the final turns; HAM locks up
HAM 1:21.861
VET P2
LEC 1:21.739
BOT 1:21.241
GRO fighting the Haas through the final turns
VER P2
5mins left of Q2; bottom 5 are GRO, KVY, ALB, GIO, NOR
Just over 3mins left; garages are emptying
HAM 1:21.014
Chequered flag; bottom 5 are GRO, KVY, ALB, GIO, NOR
GRO P5; PER P11
NOR P9; RIC P11
GIO P13
KVY P14
RIC P11
ALB P12
PER 10; HUL P11
Middle of the grid: HUL, RIC, ALB, GIO, KVY
The top 10 will all start the race on soft compound tyres

Qualifying Session 3
Top 10 shootout is between HAM, BOT, VER, LEC, GRO, VET, MAG, RAI, NOR and PER
Radio from HAM complaining about his right front brake
GRO 1:21.983
MAG P2
HAM 1:21.055
BOT 1:20.598
NOR P5
VET P3
LEC P4
VER P5
5mins left; order is BOT, HAM, VET, LEC, VER, GRO, MAG, NOR; no time yet from RAI or PER
VER struggling to get his Red Bull going as he leaves the garage
Everyone on track for a final run
PER P7
Chequered flag
MAG P7
HAM 1:20.486
NOR P8
BOT P2
GRO P6
LEC P4
VET P3
RAI P9
VER P4
Front of the grid: HAM, BOT, VET, VER, LEC, GRO, MAG, NOR, RAI, PER

Looks like it’ll be another good battle in the race tomorrow, with Mercedes having only a small lead in Quali.

Provisional grid: HAM, BOT, VET, VER, LEC, GRO, MAG, NOR, RAI, PER, HUL, RIC, ALB, GIO, KVY, STR, GAS, SAI, RUS, KUB

Update: MAG avoided a grid penalty but Haas was fined €5,000 for the unsafe release in Q1.