Lewis Hamilton start of his title defence started well after taking pole position in the first knock out qualifying for Sundays Australian Grand Prix. The world champion launched an immediate attack on the format calling it rubbish and calling for it to be abolished.
Hamilton edge out his team-mate by .3 of a second on track. But the empty track for final five minutes has prompted calls for it to be be rethought and Red Bull boss Christian Horner said F1 should “apologise to the fans”.
Under the new format the top two will go head to head by second place driver Sebastian Vettel didn’t run along with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen as the though they wouldn’t be able to improve their times.
Vettel says he doesn’t know why everyone is surprised it didn’t work saying “It is a bit busier at the beginning of the session but for no reason. People want to see us pushing to the limit at the end of the session. It is the wrong way to go, and that’s what we said.”
Kimi Raikkonen was fourth ahead of Max Verstappen who put in a strong performance to go fifth edge out Felipe Massa while Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo completing the top eight.
Like in Q3 the final few minutes didn’t see anyone run this meant both the Force India’s made it into the final part of the session. There was disappointment for Williams as Valtteri Bottas just missed out on Q3. McLaren showed some progress with Fernando Alonso 12th and Jenson Button 13th.
Haas out qualified Manor but it was Pascal Wehrlein who was the first victim of the new elimination format followed by his team-mate Rio Haryanto. But Wehrlein will start ahead of the Indonesian who drops back after a penalty for a collision with Grosjean during final practice.