2015: Australian Grand Prix – Qualifying Report

Mercedes picked up where they left of last year by topping all three practice sessions ahead of qualifying. Nico Rosberg lead the way on Friday, finishing ahead of Lewis Hamilton in both Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2. The tables turned in Free Practice 3 when Hamilton finished a second clear of his team-mate. Going into qualifying it certainly looks like Mercedes are the team to beat although Ferrari and Red Bull are battling close behind.

Q1

Windy conditions greeted drivers as they took to the track for Q1. An engine exhaust fire damaged the wiring loom in Daniil Kvyat’s car leading to last minute repairs before he could get going. Pastor Maldonado was first out as qualifying got going with Carlos Sainz, Romain Grosjean, and Max Verstappen instantly joining him. The Ferrari duo opted to go out on the soft tyre while everyone else used the medium compound. Sainz was the first driver to set a lap-time and it was a 1:33.094. Morning pacesetter Hamilton complained of big vibrations on his first run. Sainz had a spin out on track while a number of drivers – including Nico Hulkenberg, Jenson Button and Hamilton – ran wide on their laps. The top spot was shared between Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, and Hamilton throughout the session. Kvyat got out on track with three minutes to go and his one and only lap was good enough for 12th.

  1. Lewis Hamilton – 1:28.586
  2. Nico Rosberg – 1:28.906
  3. Felipe Massa – 1:29.246
  4. Max Verstappen – 1:29.248
  5. Sebastian Vettel – 1:29.307
  6. Romain Grosjean – 1:29.537
  7. Carlos Sainz – 1:29.597
  8. Valtteri Botttas – 1:29.641
  9. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:29.651
  10. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:29.754
  11. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:29.788
  12. Pastor Maldonado – 1:29.847
  13. Sergio Perez – 1:29.990
  14. Daniil Kvyat – 1:30.402
  15. Felipe Nasr – 1:30.430
  16. Marcus Ericsson – 1:31.376
  17. Jenson Button – 1:31.422
  18. Kevin Magnussen – 1:32.037
  19. Will Stevens – No Time Set
  20. Roberto Merhi – No Time Set

Q2

Missing from the second part of qualifying were Marcus Ericsson and both McLaren drivers. Felipe Nasr got out early for Q2 running as did Nico Hulkenberg. The first time of Q2 was a 1:29.614 set by Nasr in the remaining Sauber. The Mercedes duo set fast laps on their first run and returned to the garage with five minutes remaining. Pastor Maldonado failed to set a lap-time in the early phases of Q2 and it wasn’t until the chequered flag that he completed one – jumping into the top ten. He was joined by team-mate Romain Grosjean in a positive showing for Lotus. Nasr briefly made it into the pole position shoot out but eventually ended up 11th, not even a tenth off Q3.  Sainz was the only rookie to make it through.

  1. Lewis Hamilton 1:26.894
  2. Nico Rosberg 1:27.097
  3. Sebastian Vettel 1:27.742
  4. Valtteri Bottas 1:27.796
  5. Kimi Raikkonen 1:27.807
  6. Felipe Massa 1:27.895
  7. Romain Grosjean 1:28.589
  8. Carlos Sainz 1:28.601
  9. Daniel Ricciardo 1:28.679
  10. Pastor Maldonado 1:28.726
  11. Felipe Nasr 1:28.800
  12. Max Verstappen 1:28.868
  13. Daniil Kvyat 1:29.070
  14. Nico Hulkenberg 1:29.208
  15. Sergio Perez 1:29.209

Q3

Going into the pole position shoot out were both Mercedes, both Ferraris, both Williams, both Lotus’, a Toro Rosso and a Red Bull. Valtteri Bottas locked up on his first run and lost time. He complained over team radio about a problem with the “bite of brakes”. Lewis Hamilton – who set the pace in FP3, Q1, and Q2 – opened his account for pole position with a 1:26.419, beating Kimi Raikkonen’s time by over two seconds. Nico Rosberg ran wide on the penultimate corner, ruining his first run. There was a flurry of activity with three minutes of the session remaining as half of the top ten took to the track. Sebastian Vettel used a set of used soft tyres for his final run while team-mate Kimi Raikkonen used a new set. In the end Hamilton’s impressive time was enough to clinch pole position after Rosberg could not improve and finished over half a second down on his team-mate.

  1. Lewis Hamilton 1:26.327
  2. Nico Rosberg 1:26.921
  3. Felipe Massa 1:27.718
  4. Sebastian Vettel 1:27.757
  5. Kimi Raikkonen 1:27.790
  6. Valtteri Bottas 1:28.087
  7. Daniel Ricciardo 1:28.329
  8. Carlos Sainz 1:30.289
  9. Romain Grosjean 1:28.560
  10. Pastor Maldonado 1:29.480
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