Notebook – Australian Qualifying

Features Notebook

Lewis Hamilton will start from pole position for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. The four times champion put in a brilliant lap going seven tenths faster than the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen with Sebastian Vettel third.

It was a dominating start for the Englishman, who went a second faster than his own track record that he set in qualifying last year, which underlines the performance of Mercedes

Pole Lap – L. Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton comes out of the final corner going to the outside of the track where he slightly drifts over to line up with the grid as he enters into Jones hits the kerb and then drifts the Mercedes across the track entering Brabham. Stays on the inside as he runs along Aughtuie Drive before crossing to the outside for Sports Centre. Breaking a 100m before the corner, and runs the car to the outside before returning to the inside. Goes nicely through Hellas and runs the car along the inside nips to the outside briefly going into the ninety degree Whiteford.

Carries speed on the way to Marina, breaking 100m before the corner gets a good exit and build speed through Lauda hugging the lakeside. S he exits the curve he heads to the outside before breaking for the Waite chiance.

Which he takes by going to the outside hitting the kerb on entry and straight through the exit going back to the outside. Nicely driven on the approach to Hill before breaking runs along to Ascari, where he takes the kerb goes to the inside for Senna. He hugs the apex before lining himself up through Prost going to the outside and runs along all the way doing a 1:21.164.

Bottas crashes out

Valtteri Bottas crashed out in the final part of qualifying after he went off at Turn Two.

He comes along into the first corner then midway through the bit in between One and Two he has all four wheels over the white line and as he gets back onto the circuit, he loses the rear. It looks like he then tried to correct but hits both sides of the car.

That impact was a result of him going wide, we say all the time the track is defined by the white lines and you should be penalised for going over the lines. But he made a mistake and that’s the price he pays, also it was a huge impact ripped the rear wing and rear suspension off his car, damaging the gearbox beyond repair.

That gearbox change has earnt him a five-place grid penalty, meaning he will start fifteenth. He said “It was quite a big hit and I’m glad everything’s fine. There’s no pain at the moment. For sure in the moment it hurts a bit but I guess you earn that when you make a mistake like that.”

“The car is not fine but hopefully it will be okay. I think tomorrow if we can get everything back together, obviously, starting a bit far to be really fighting for the win, but there’s no point giving up on Saturday.”

Ecclestone faces new bribery case

Formula One’s chairman emeritus Bernie Ecclestone could stand trial in the UK over the sports sale to CVC partners in 2005. Ecclestone stood trial accused of bribery over the sale of the sport in 2014 in Germany.

This case revolves around Bluewaters’ attempt to buy shares from Bayerische Landesbank (BLB), and the allegation that, with the help of Gribkowsky, Ecclestone was able to block the sale, leading to a subsequent deal with CVC.

The bank and the family trust control by Ecclestone are defendants. Ecclestone denied the claims in 2014 claiming Gribkowsky threatened to reveal his tax affairs and was convicted of fraud and tax evasion in 2012.

The 2014 action in Germany was suspended when Ecclestone made a payment of $99m to the Bavarian government. In this latest action, Bluewaters is seeking damages from Ecclestone, BLB and Bambino.

Simon Bushell of Signature Litigation said: “Our client Bluewaters is pleased the judge has now set a date for the trial in London, which presents an opportunity to show how Mr Ecclestone’s secret payments to Gerhard Gribkowsky blocked our client’s bid for Formula 1.

“The timing is key. Mid-way through Bluewaters’ negotiations with BLB, in May 2005, we know Dr Gribkowsky started discussions with his accountant in Austria in anticipation of receiving large payments which needed to be handled very discreetly.”

Verstappen make mistake

Max Verstappen has suggested that he could have qualified on the front row of the grid if he hadn’t made a mistake at turn thirteen. The Dutchman was fourth fastest and was seven tenths off the pace, however, suggested if he hadn’t run wide he could have been on the front row.

Verstappen had been on a good lap after doing personal bests in the first two sectors, but he ran wide in the last sector costing him four-thousandths of a second. If he had kept together he could have been on the front row.

Asked what happened, he said “I went wide in Turn 13, so I lost two-tenths compared to my quickest lap. Lewis seems to be quite far ahead, but if we would have put a clean lap together.”

“I  just lost a little bit on entry, so I missed the apex and then went wide onto the AstroTurf. You slide the rears and then the rear tyres are too hot, so that’s not ideal.”

Alonso expects big points

Fernando Alonso says that he expects that McLaren to be pushing for a top-six finish in tomorrow’s race, despite the team losing both cars in Q2.

Alonso will start eleventh and his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne twelfth after a very close fight with Renault and Haas, which saw the team fail to get through to the top ten shootout. Alonso admitted errors on his final Q2 lap proved to be costly but he has seen enough from the car over the weekend so far to be excited by its potential for the race.

“Definitely there is a little bit more time but if you analyse everyone’s lap and you put every perfect corner, you make an ideal lap it’s quite difficult to get,” he said.

“I obviously could maybe be in Q3 but I am happy where I am — I deserve to be P11 today, it’s still a very good result in my opinion.”

Alonso says the performance of the car has been good all weekend, saying that the car was well balanced and competitive from FP1, especially in damp conditions.

When asked if “big points” meant seventh or sixth, he said: “Hopefully better.”

Alonso’s optimism is based on the long-run pace on Friday and a belief that the season-opener could have several retirements.

“I think the race pace is a little bit better than the qualifying pace, that’s what we saw on Friday. And then maybe today our position is a little lower than the performance in the car because we didn’t optimise the laps. We’ll see.”

Haas pace adds up

Haas, as we have been saying a lot over the last month, have established themselves as the leaders of the midfield group. Going into qualifying, I think there were a few questions about could they hang on to that pace when the likes of Force India and Williams turned it up.

Kevin Magnussen was ahead of both McLarens and Renault’s, however, after qualifying, he warned that he doesn’t expect that pace to last all season. Saying that both teams are likely to move ahead in the development race due to the disparity in resources and infrastructure.

“It’s not something I focus hugely on but I would love to beat them. It would be a great thing to beat those two teams of course,” Magnussen said.

“It’s going to be a massive challenge. I say those comments with a smile on my face but it’s going to be very, very difficult. I’ve been to those teams and I have huge respect for them and I know what they’re capable of so they’re not going to be easy to up-form and it’s going to be very, very difficult.”

Instead, the aims of the American team will be to keep both cars in the points with the aim of double points.

Gasly greed costs him

Pierre Gasly says he was “too greedy” on his decisive lap during qualifying, which will see the Toro Rosso driver start from the back of the grid.

The Frenchman locked up and ran wide on his final lap in Q1, which cost him time. However, he says that mistake cost him two-tenths of a second and if he could have maintained that, he could have made it through to Q2.

He said “First run wasn’t that clean but second run was coming good, up to Turn 3 I think I was two tenths up on Brendon’s lap, it would’ve put us in the mix for Q2 and that’s where I think we should’ve been. The potential was there to be in Q2, so I’m really disappointed.”

Asked to explain the error, he elaborated: “[I was] just trying to brake slightly later, five metres later than the first run, just locked up and when I tried to turn, it just went straight. It’s not much but I just pushed over the limit and in the end it cost us massively.”

There was also frustration for his teammate Brendon Hartley, who narrowly missed out on a place in Q2. Explaining the reason, he said “I just braked a bit early, underestimated the evolution in grip and threw away two tenths on the inside kerb. The rest of the lap was pretty clean to be honest – everyone will have a similar story.”

Hartley added that if the team had used an extra set of tyres would have all but assured progression.

Race Prixview

Tomorrows Grand Prix could be as close as we saw qualifying with three teams Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull all fighting it out at the front as they were close in qualifying. Hamilton doesn’t have Bottas to back him up on track, that could leave him vulnerable like we saw last year.

You need to watch Haas as well they have had a brilliant qualifying, but I think that they need to prove themselves as credible challengers. But this race is unknown, as we know Mercedes proved reliable in testing, can they deliver that in races.

Also, like we saw last year Ferrari got ahead of Mercedes in the pit stops and went onto win the race. The strategy could be key in this race as overtaking isn’t easy but can be done in Melbourne, and we know last season the current regulations don’t make it easy to overtake.

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Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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