Mar 15, 2014, 3:06 AM EDT
Lewis Hamilton has claimed pole position for the Australian Grand Prix on Saturday after taming the wet conditions to beat his rivals by three-tenths of a second.
However, he was nearly denied by home favorite Daniel Ricciardo, but the Australian driver was forced to settle for second place ahead of Nico Rosberg and McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen.
Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso qualified in fifth place for Ferrari, but it was a disastrous qualifying session for defending world champion Sebastian Vettel as he finished down in P13.
Qualifying began under a cover of cloud with rain threatening to interrupt proceedings on Saturday evening in Melbourne. As a result, most of the drivers opted to get out early, with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg queuing at the end of the pit lane. The Briton was the first driver to post a time of 1:31.699 on mediums, but he was soon toppled by Felipe Massa on the soft tire. Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen managed to beat the Brazilian with their first lap times on options, and occupied the top two positions at the halfway point in the session.
With a great time difference between the tire compounds, Alonso was told to give up on his medium run and pit for fresh softs. Despite a ragged lap, he managed to jump up into fourth place. Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel scraped the wall on the exit of turn ten as he continued to struggle with the Red Bull RB10, but he managed to move into the top ten as the first reports of rain came through.
As the umbrellas went up, the drivers languishing in the dropzone pushed to get a quick lap in and beat the weather. However, the rain only grew stronger, meaning that they had to pit and could not get back out again. Lotus drivers Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado fared terribly, making up the back row of the grid, whilst Kamui Kobayashi was the big winner by making it through to Q2 for Caterham.
At the beginning of the second session, the teams were forced to fit intermediate tires in order to deal with the spray, although the rain had eased slightly. Leading the field, Valtteri Bottas had two big moments as he looked for grip, but he held it together to post the first time of the session. With weather forecasts varying, most opted to get out early and post a time, with Daniel Ricciardo leading the way after the initial set of times had been set.
Bottas, Ricciardo, Hamilton, Button and Rosberg all traded fastest times in the wet conditions as the track began to dry, meaning that it was soon a question of track position. All of the drivers pitted for a fresh set of intermediate tires for one final run in the final few minutes of the session, and a dry line began to emerge on the track.
However, the session was interrupted when Kimi Raikkonen put his Ferrari into the wall at turn four, forcing drivers to slow. Nevertheless, some were able to improve as the checkered flag fell including Kevin Magnussen and Daniil Kvyat, both of whom made it into the top ten on their F1 debut. However, for Vettel, it was a disaster as he qualified in 12th place, just behind Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen, who were also disappointed not to make it into the top ten.
Sans Vettel, Ricciardo was left to keep the Red Bull fight alive in Q3 and try to stop Mercedes dominating proceedings. All of the drivers except Alonso headed out on full wet tires as the rain had grown far heavier. Rosberg set the initial benchmark of 1:45.550 with teammate Hamilton slotting into second place at first before moving up into top spot one lap later.
As the final runs began, most of the teams opted to switch to intermediate tires, but Mercedes kept its drivers on full wets to deal with the slippery conditions. Rosberg lost his first lap after running off at turn nine, but he claimed provisional pole as the checkered flag fell. However, Hamilton, Ricciardo and Alonso all had one extra lap, giving them a chance to deny the German.
With his final lap, Ricciardo sent the Australian crowd into delirium by claiming provisional pole, but he was forced to settle for second place as Lewis Hamilton charged through the spray to claim pole position by three tenths of a second.
Pole sees Hamilton claim the 100th Mercedes-powered pole in Formula 1. Having dominated practice and testing, the team would have been disappointed with anything less than pole, and both Hamilton and Rosberg will be hoping for a good race tomorrow.
For Ricciardo, P2 is his best ever qualifying result in Formula 1, and frankly a staggering result given how much Red Bull has struggled over the winter. Quite whether he can continue this form into the race on Sunday remains to be seen, but should the forecast rain arrive, the Australian may be able to give his home fans something to shout about.
May 30, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT
We caught up with a few of the GRC Lites drivers before their season kicks off.
May 30, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT
Force India team owner claims F1 has become too democratic in letting some of the teams have a say.
May 29, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
Frenchman hopes to bounce back in Canada next weekend after finishing outside of the points in Monaco.
May 29, 2015, 4:52 PM EDT
Will Power and Helio Castroneves complete the front row for first of two IndyCar races in Detroit.
May 29, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT
Sainz went on to finish the race in tenth place, but it all very nearly ended far earlier in Monaco last Sunday.
May 29, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
GT racer returns after making his Formula E debut in Uruguay at the end of 2014.
May 29, 2015, 1:51 PM EDT
Brembo busy with IndyCar, TUDOR and World Challenge this weekend.
May 29, 2015, 12:48 PM EDT
Kanaan leads the way in the T-Swift mobile.
May 29, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
Fernando Alonso’s manager confident the Spaniard was right to leave Ferrari and join McLaren for 2015.
May 29, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT
Ecclestone has given the race promoters two months to make a decision on whether to revive the Indian Grand Prix or not.
May 29, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
What’s next for Joni Wiman, the defending Red Bull Global Rallycross champion?
May 29, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT
Ricciardo announced himself on F1’s big stage in Canada last year with the first of three victories in 2014.
May 29, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
Here’s how field did in last year’s doubleheaders.
May 29, 2015, 7:45 AM EDT
Who will emerge on top after a crucial weekend in Detroit?
May 29, 2015, 12:35 AM EDT
Larry Dixon is making up for lost time – in VERY fast way, that is – as in the neighborhood of 320-plus mph and less than four seconds.
May 28, 2015, 11:05 PM EDT
Sarah Cornett-Ching is opening a lot of eyes in the ARCA Series this season.
May 28, 2015, 8:59 PM EDT
Here’s the field for this year’s Red Bull GRC season opener in Ft. Lauderdale.
May 28, 2015, 8:31 PM EDT
Taylor Swift on an IndyCar? Believe it.
May 28, 2015, 6:49 PM EDT
With the completion of the Kansas Nationals this past Sunday, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series has reached the one-third point of the 2015 season.
- Power wins Verizon P1 Award in Detroit with new track record 1
- Preview: Detroit’s doubleheader a crucial weekend for IndyCar championship 0
- ARCA: From welder to race car driver, Sarah Cornett-Ching continues her building prowess 2
- Taylor Swift to be featured on Tony Kanaan’s IndyCar in Detroit; will she make it to track? 7
- Surprises, struggles: NHRA at one-third mark of ’15 season 5
- FIA seeking new teams for Formula 1 in 2016 and 2017 8
- Gossage to Walker: “We need a more competitive race this year than last year” 2