Skip to content

Hamilton claims Australian GP pole in wet conditions

Mar 15, 2014, 3:06 AM EDT

Australian F1 Grand Prix - Qualifying Getty Images

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Want one of Townsend Bell’s awesome Robert Graham Indy 500 crew shirts? You can, on eBay

    Sep 23, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    T-Bell-Cockpit AP

    One of the KV crew shirts for Townsend Bell’s multicolored Robert Graham Indianapolis 500 car is up for sale on eBay.

  2. COTA: A circuit to behold from the passenger’s seat

    Sep 23, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT

    Photo: Tony DiZinno Photo: Tony DiZinno

    Not that we needed further evidence that Circuit of the Americas is awesome, but riding shotgun with Dindo Capello in Audi provides us said further evidence.

  3. Mike Conway sorting out 2015 open-wheel/sports car plans

    Sep 23, 2014, 10:38 AM EDT

    ConwayTOR2 Getty Images

    Mike Conway is operating from a position of strength as he looks to continue open-wheel/sports car balance into 2015.

  4. IndyCar driver presence returns for this year’s Petit Le Mans

    Sep 23, 2014, 9:48 AM EDT

    GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma - Day 3 Getty Images

    Dixon, Hunter-Reay, Briscoe, Bourdais set for Petit Le Mans appearances.

  5. NASCAR AMERICA: Team Penske pushing for incredible season (VIDEO)

    Sep 22, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano AP

    They’ve already got the IndyCar title. But can Team Penske claim the Sprint Cup as well this season?

  6. NASCAR AMERICA: The evolution of Joey Logano (VIDEO)

    Sep 22, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    Sylvania 300 Getty Images

    It hasn’t always been easy for Logano since he broke into the Sprint Cup Series in 2009. But there’s no disputing that the kid once known as “Sliced Bread” (as in, greatest thing since) has grown up.

  7. NASCAR: Penske, Roush Fenway squads test at Texas Motor Speedway

    Sep 22, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT

    Credit: Texas Motor Speedway Credit: Texas Motor Speedway

    Two teams on the opposite ends of the Chase spectrum head for the Lone Star State.

  8. Red Bull GRC: Ken Block, Joni Wiman now the ones to beat in title race

    Sep 22, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    GRCLogo

    A wild doubleheader in Los Angeles has left Block with an 18-point edge over Wiman as the series heads for Seattle.

  9. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA recaps day of survival in N.H. at 4:30 p.m. ET

    Sep 22, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT

    Sylvania 300 Getty Images

    Coming up today: Highlights and analysis from Joey Logano’s Chase win at Loudon; an interview with Penske president Tim Cindric; Kevin Harvick’s Chase progress; Denny Hamlin’s nightmarish day; 16-year-old Cole Custer’s historic Truck win.

  10. Alex Zanardi inspires once again in “Touch The Sky” clip (VIDEO)

    Sep 22, 2014, 3:55 PM EDT

    Indianapolis 500 Getty Images

    The former CART and F1 driver’s incredible story is spotlighted in a special clip that previews a new film regarding BMW’s legacy in touring car racing.

  11. Wally Dallenbach Jr. is coming back to Trans-Am

    Sep 22, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    DallenbachHeadshot

    Wally Dallenbach Jr. to make competitive return to driving in Trans-Am, starting next month.

  12. McLaren principal says Red Bull used coded messages in Singapore GP

    Sep 22, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    Singapore F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Eric Boullier indicates that he feels Red Bull breached the FIA’s new radio ban with its messages to Daniel Ricciardo during Sunday’s race.

  13. Mark Webber refreshed, relaxed in Austin return

    Sep 22, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    WebberCOTA Getty Images

    Mark Webber enjoys his return to Austin in FIA WEC, even if the result in his No. 20 Porsche goes begging.

  14. Team Penske has early Chase edge, but Hendrick camp can strike at Dover

    Sep 22, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    Chase for the sprint cup logo

    The clash of the titans has gone Team Penske’s way so far. But next weekend’s race at Dover could see the tide turn in favor of Hendrick Motorsports.

  15. Lotterer: “F1 (racing) isn’t what it used to be anymore”

    Sep 22, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    LottererCaterham Getty Images

    Andre Lotterer reflects on the openness of FIA WEC and Super Formula compared to his one-off Grand Prix appearance in Belgium.

  16. COTA weekend thoughts and observations: FIA WEC

    Sep 22, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    GDriveSMPCOTA AP

    The FIA WEC headed to Texas this weekend. Here are some thoughts on how it went down.

  17. COTA weekend thoughts and observations: IMSA

    Sep 22, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT

    IMSACota Getty Images

    Both the TUDOR Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge put on a show in Austin this weekend.

  18. FIA WEC: Another Audi win at COTA

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:21 AM EDT

    Le Mans 24h Race Getty Images

    Audi 1-2 leads FIA WEC winners at COTA.

  19. Can Hamilton take this momentum all the way to Abu Dhabi?

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Singapore F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Reliability woes have left Nico Rosberg reeling. If he doesn’t respond at Suzuka, it could be game over.

  20. Rosberg: I felt helpless in Singapore (VIDEO)

    Sep 22, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Singapore F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    German driver does well to keep his anger in check in his post-race video blog.

Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. B. Keselowski (1727)
  2. J. Gordon (1201)
  3. K. Harvick (1099)
  4. C. Custer (1070)
  5. B. Myers (977)