Australian GP: Vettel grabs first pole of the season for Red Bull Racing
By Berthold Bouman
After qualifying on Saturday was postponed until Sunday morning due to the rain storms in Melbourne, triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel did what he usually does and grabbed the first pole of the season with a lap of 1m27.407s on an almost dry Albert Park Circuit.
The last qualifying session Q3 turned into a shoot-out for pole, but it was Vettel who was the smartest and he made good use of the conditions of the drying track. “Obviously I was very happy with the result, but with the adjusted schedule we can’t be too euphoric right now — in a few hours the race is coming up, so it’s head down again to get on with that,” said the pole-sitter.
Polesitter Vettel with the press – Photo: Red Bull Racing
Mark Webber put the second Red Bull on second place of the grid, thus Red Bull will start from the front row this afternoon. “It was slippery yesterday and we came back again today for a very short explosive session; it’s all over in a flash. We needed to get things right, I would have liked two laps but we finished up the grid at the right end. The weather can change very quickly here, so it’s always hard to make a call,” said the Australian driver ahead of his home Grand Prix.
Yesterday, during Q1, Pastor Maldonado, Esteban Gutierrez, Jules Bianchi, Max Chilton, Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic were already eliminated from the rest of qualifying, thus 16 drivers battled for pole this morning.
Lewis Hamilton surprised friend and foe by taking third place for Mercedes, he was 0.680s slower than Vettel, while Nico Rosberg was sixth. Both Ferrari drivers Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso took fourth and fifth place respectively, albeit over a second off the pace.
Third place for Hamilton and Mercedes – Photo: Mercedes-Benz
Seventh and eighth place were for Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. It was a difficult to set a decent time in just one lap, Raikkonen later said, “It was an okay qualifying session. We had just one lap on the dry tyres and I got a bit sideways at the end on a damp patch which meant I lost some time so that was a bit disappointing.”
Paul di Resta was ninth in the Force India, and the Scotsman commented, “We came here with intentions of reaching Q3 so it’s a good way to start the year. I think we got most things right today, especially the timing of the switch to a fresh set of intermediates towards the end of Q2. Ninth position is a good place to be starting and it’s on the cleaner side of the track too.”
Jenson Button was lucky to get in Q3, but finished the day on tenth spot, while Sergio Perez in the second McLaren didn’t make the cut and the Mexican will be starting from 15th place on the grid this afternoon.
Nico Hulkenberg, Adrian Sutil, Jean-Eric Vergne, Daniel Ricciardo, Perez and Valtteri Bottas also didn’t make it into Q3. It wasn’t an easy day for rookie Bottas, “It wasn’t the easiest qualifying session to start my Formula One career. It was good to get through Q1 yesterday but the conditions were tricky again today as it was getting drier all the time. We tried the super soft tyre, but unfortunately it didn’t allow us to improve our lap time.”
Difficult qualifying for McLaren – Photo: McLaren
Sutil reckoned he switched to the slicks too early and commented, “The track conditions were much better this morning, but it was still tricky and I didn’t feel that comfortable on the damp track. The key to Q2 was the timing of your lap and we probably changed a bit too early to the new intermediates because there was only one quick lap in those tyres. I had time for another lap, but my tyres were going off and I could not improve.”