Nico Rosberg takes fourth straight win in Australia as Haas F1 Team finishes sixth on debut

49Ferrari seized control at the start of Sunday’s 2016 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix, but a mid-race stoppage after a huge accident involving Fernando Alonso turned the race on its head, helping Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg to what had looked an unlikely victory.

Team mate Lewis Hamilton recovered from a nightmare start to finish second, while Sebastian Vettel – who led into Turn 1 and looked very much in charge prior to the red flags – had to settle for third after 57 laps of Albert Park.

Local hero Daniel Ricciardo took a popular fourth place for Red Bull, well clear of the Williams of Felipe Massa, while Romain Grosjean gave the all-new Haas team points on their debut with sixth.

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, and the Toro Rosso duo of Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen completed the top ten, with Renault’s Jolyon Palmer narrowly missing out on a point in his maiden Grand Prix.

Vettel and team mate Kimi Raikkonen had made it a Ferrari one-two at the start, as the Mercedes drivers made poor getaways and then nearly came to blows in Turn 1, and the four-time champion had a 1.5s lead by the end of lap one, with Rosberg third and Hamilton down to sixth.

But Ferrari’s strategy unravelled after Alonso and Haas’s Esteban Gutierrez made contact on lap 18, bringing out the safety car and then causing the race to be stopped. When it restarted a few minutes later, Mercedes had regrouped.

Australian Grand Prix Race Results
Pos. Car # Driver Laps Behind Status Points
1 6 Nico Roseberg 57 Leader Running 25
2 44 Lewis Hamiton 57 -8.060 Running 18
3 5 Sebastian Vettel 57 -9.643 Running 15
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo 57 -24.330 Running 12
5 19 Felipe Massa 57 -58.979 Running 10
6 8 Romain Grojean 57 -1:12.081 Running 8
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg 57 -1:14.199 Running 6
8 77 Valtteri Bottas 57 -1:15.153 Running 4
9 55 Carlos Sainz Jr 57 -1:15.680 Running 2
10 33 Max Verstappen 57 -1:16.833 Running 1
11 30 Jolyon Palmer 57 1:23.399 Running 0
12 20 Kevin Magnussen 57 1:25.606 Running 0
13 11 Sergio Perez 57 1:31.699 Running 0
14 22 Jenson Button 56 -1 Lap Running 0
15 12 Felipe Nasr 56 -1 Lap Running 0
16 94 Pascal Wehrlein 56 -1 Lap Running 0
17 9 Marcus Ericsson 40 -17 Laps Retired 0
18 7 Kimi Raikkonen 23 -34 Laps Retired 0
19 88 Rio Haryanto 19 -38 Laps Retired 0
20 21 Esteban Gutierrez 17 -40 Laps Retired 0
21 14 Fernando Alonso 17 -40 Laps Retired 0
22 26 Daniil Kvyat 0 -57 Laps Retired 0

 

Drivers Championship
After Race 1 of the 2016 season at Australian Grand Prix
Pos. Car # Driver Team Wins Points Behind Gap
1 6 Nico Roseberg Mercedes 1 25 Leader Leader
2 44 Lewis Hamiton Mercedes 0 18 7 7
3 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 0 15 10 3
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer 0 12 13 3
5 19 Felipe Massa William-Mercedes 0 10 15 2
6 8 Romain Grojean Haas-Ferrari 0 8 17 2
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force india-Mercedes 0 6 19 2
8 77 Valtteri Bottas William-Mercedes 0 4 21 2
9 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Toro Rosso-Ferrari 0 2 23 2
10 33 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso-Ferrari 0 1 24 1
11 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault 0 0 25 1
12 20 Kevin Magnussen Renault 0 0 25 0
13 11 Sergio Perez Force india-Mercedes 0 0 25 0
14 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda 0 0 25 0
15 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari 0 0 25 0
16 94 Pascal Wehrlein MRT-Mercedes 0 0 25 0
17 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 0 0 25 0
18 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 0 0 25 0
19 88 Rio Haryanto MRT-Mercedes 0 0 25 0
20 21 Esteban Gutierrez Haas-Ferrari 0 0 25 0
21 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 0 0 25 0
22 26 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer 0 0 25 0

 

Constructors Championship
After Race 1 of the 2016 season at Australian Grand Prix
Pos. Team Wins Points Behind Gap
1 Mercedes 1 43 Leader Leader
2 Ferrari 0 15 28 28
3 Williams-Mercedes 0 14 29 1
4 Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer 0 12 31 2
5 Haas-Ferrari 0 8 35 4
6 Force India-Mercedes 0 6 37 2
7 Toro Rosso-Ferrari 0 3 40 3
8 Manor-Mercedes 0 0 43 3
9 McLaren-Honda 0 0 43 0
10 Renault 0 0 43 0
11 Sauber-Ferrari 0 0 43 0

 

2016 DHL Fastest Lap Award
Grand Prix Driver Team Time
Australian Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull  1:28.997

 

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Lewis Hamilton claims the 50th pole of his career at the Australian GP

untitledF1 qualifying’s new quick-fire elimination format provided a highly intriguing session in Melbourne on Saturday, as Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton secured pole position for the 2016 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix, three-tenths up on team mate Nico Rosberg.

It was the 50th pole of Hamilton’s F1 career, making him only the third man in history to reach the benchmark, along with Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna.

Bizarrely, under the new system, it was down to a two-way fight with over five minutes of Q3 remaining, with the slowest four drivers already eliminated, and with Ferrari choosing not to run further, having decided that Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen would be unable to improve on their times.

At that point those times put them second and fourth respectively and it needed a late second run from Rosberg to dislodge Vettel.

Max Verstappen took a superb fifth for Toro Rosso, followed by Williams’ Felipe Massa and the second Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz, with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo completing the top eight.

Q2 accounted for the Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg, Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, McLaren duo Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, and the Renaults of Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen.

In a frantic Q1 session, Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein had the dubious honour of being the first man eliminated under the new system. He was followed by team mate and fellow rookie Rio Haryanto, who faces a three-place grid drop for his FP3 pit-lane shunt.

Newcomers Haas got their timing wrong which resulted in Esteban Gutierrez and Romain Grosjean also getting an early bath, while Daniil Kvyat blamed poor tactics from Red Bull for his surprise exit, which followed that of Sauber’s Felipe Nasr.

The seemingly time-expired Jolyon Palmer was the last to escape into Q2, jumping from 17th to 14th despite the final 90s segment having ended, since the final runner is halted by the chequered flag, not by the countdown clock. That made Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson the last Q1 faller.

The biggest talking point coming out of the session was the failure of the new qualifying format to get more cars on track as hoped, with pole being decided with four minutes remaining in the session. The qualifying sessions were a complete joke.

Australian Grand Prix Qualifying Results
Pos. Car # Driver Q1 Q2 Q3 Gap Laps
1 44 Lewis Hamiton 1:25.351 1:24.605 1:23.837 Leader 14
2 6 Nico Roseberg 1:26.934 1:24.796 1:24.197 -0.360 13
3 5 Sebastian Vettel 1:26.945 1:25.257 1:24.675 -0.478 14
4 7 Kimi Raikkonen 1:26.579 1:25.615 1:25.033 -0.358 13
5 33 Max Verstappen 1:26.934 1:25.615 1:25.434 -0.401 12
6 19 Felipe Massa 1:25.918 1:25.644 1:25.458 -0.024 12
7 55 Carlos Sainz Jr 1:27.057 1:25.384 1:25.582 -0.124 14
8 3 Daniel Ricciardo 1:26.945 1:25.599 1:25.589 -0.007 15
9 11 Sergio Perez 1:26.607 1:25.753 Eliminated -0.164 12
10 27 Nico Hulkenberg 1:26.550 1:25.865 Eliminated -0.112 14
11 77 Valtteri Bottas 1:27.135 1:25.961 Eliminated -0.096 9
12 14 Fernando Alonso 1:26.537 1:26.125 Eliminated -0.164 9
13 22 Jenson Button 1:26.740 1:26.304 Eliminated -0.179 9
14 30 Jolyon Palmer 1:27.241 1:27.601 Eliminated -1.297 12
15 20 Kevin Magnussen 1:27.297 1:27.742 Eliminated -0.141 11
16 9 Marcus Ericsson 1:27.435 Eliminated 0.307 9
17 12 Felipe Nasr 1:27.958 Eliminated -0.523 6
18 26 Daniil Kvyat 1:28.006 Eliminated -0.048 5
19 8 Romain Grojean 1:28.322 Eliminated -0.316 6
20 21 Esteban Gutierrez 1:29.606 Eliminated -1.284 6
21 88 Rio Haryanto* 1:29.627 Eliminated -0.021 3
22 94 Pascal Wehrlein 1:29.642 Eliminated -0.015 3

– Haryanta has a 3 Grid Penalty

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Hamilton heads up Mercedes one-two in final Australian GP practice

5Saturday afternoon in Melbourne finally provided some proper dry tyre running, and after Friday’s damp conditions everyone was keen to take full advantage. Quickest around Albert Park were the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, followed by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, with the three men split by just two-tenths of a second.

Carlos Sainz was an impressive fourth fastest for Toro Rosso, six-tenths off Hamilton, followed by the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen and team mate Max Verstappen. Valtteri Bottas finished seventh for Williams, separated from team mate Felipe Massa by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. Force India’s Sergio Perez completed the top ten.

The session started in dramatic fashion, as Manor rookie Rio Haryanto was released from his garage into the path of an emerging Romain Grosjean in the Haas. The two cars were briefly locked together after the low-speed pit-lane collision, with the Manor’s front wing stuck under the Haas’s sidepod.

Australian Grand Prix Final Practice
Pos. Car # Driver Best Time Behind Gap Laps
1 44 Lewis Hamiton 1:25.624 Leader Leader 24
2 6 Nico Roseberg 1:25.800 -0.176 -0.176 25
3 5 Sebastian Vettel 1:25.852 -0.228 -0.052 25
4 55 Carlos Sainz Jr 1:26.257 -0.633 -0.405 28
5 7 Kimi Raikkonen 1:26.434 -0.811 -0.178 23
6 33 Max Verstappen 1:26.701 -1.077 -0.266 26
7 77 Valtteri Bottas 1:26.730 -1.106 -0.029 28
8 3 Daniel Ricciardo 1:26.768 -1.144 -0.038 22
9 19 Felipe Massa 1:27.151 -1.527 -0.383 28
10 11 Sergio Perez 1:27.242 -1.618 -0.091 22
11 14 Fernando Alonso 1:27.263 -1.639 -0.021 20
12 22 Jenson Button 1:27.341 -1.717 -0.078 20
13 26 Daniil Kvyat 1:27.430 -1.806 -0.089 22
14 9 Marcus Ericsson 1:27.659 -2.035 -0.229 26
15 20 Kevin Magnussen 1:27.871 -2.247 -0.212 24
16 27 Nico Hulkenberg 1:27.988 -2.364 -0.117 22
17 30 Jolyon Palmer 1:28.117 -2.493 -0.129 24
18 21 Esteban Gutierrez 1:28.284 -2.660 -0.167 21
19 8 Romain Grojean 1:28.292 -2.668 -0.008 11
20 12 Felipe Nasr 1:28.293 -2.669 -0.001 26
21 94 Pascal Wehrlein 1:29.046 -3.422 -0.753 18
22 88 Rio Haryanto 1:29.272 -3.648 -0.226 23

 

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Hamilton leads, Rosberg crashes in second Australian GP practice

untitledIt was intermediate tyres all the way in Friday’s second practice for the 2016 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix, and again it was Lewis Hamilton setting the pace at a damp Albert Park. The world champion headed Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg by 0.467s, but it was a case of mixed fortunes for Mercedes.

No practice results to display.

Hamilton’s team mate Nico Rosberg was the most high-profile victim of the slippery conditions, the German swiping the front wing off his Silver Arrow against the wall following a spin at Turn 7. To add insult to injury, it was a new-spec nose that the team had deliberately not run in FP1 for fear of potential damage.

Kimi Raikkonen was third fastest to put Ferrari in the mix, followed in the times by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, and the McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. Completing the top ten were Sebastian Vettel in the second Ferrari, Force India’s Sergio Perez and Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat.

Australian Grand Prix Second Practice
Pos. Car # Driver Best Time Behind Gap Laps
1 44 Lewis Hamiton 1:38.841 Leader Leader 4
2 27 Nico Hulkenberg 1:39.308 -0.467 -0.467 8
3 7 Kimi Raikkonen 1:39.486 -0.645 -0.178 7
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo 1:39.535 -0.694 -0.049 8
5 55 Carlos Sainz Jr 1:39.786 -0.945 -0.251 14
6 14 Fernando Alonso 1:39.895 -1.054 -0.109 16
7 22 Jenson Button 1:40.008 -1.167 -0.113 12
8 5 Sebastian Vettel 1:40.761 -1.920 -0.753 7
9 11 Sergio Perez 1:41.256 -2.415 -0.495 8
10 26 Daniil Kvyat 1:42.411 -3.570 -1.155 10
11 21 Esteban Gutierrez 1:42.891 -4.050 -0.480 8
12 94 Pascal Wehrlein 1:43.401 -4.560 -0.510 22
13 8 Romain Grojean 1:43.731 -4.890 -0.330 7
14 88 Rio Haryanto 1:44.304 -5.463 -0.573 22
15 6 Nico Roseberg 1:47.356 -8.515 -3.052 4
16 20 Kevin Magnussen 0:00.000 -1:38.841 -1:47.356 1
17 30 Jolyon Palmer 0:00.000 -1:38.841 0.000 4
18 19 Felipe Massa 0:00.000 -1:38.841 0.000 1
19 77 Valtteri Bottas 0:00.000 -1:38.841 0.000 1
20 9 Marcus Ericsson 0:00.000 -1:38.841 0.000 0
21 12 Felipe Nasr 0:00.000 -1:38.841 0.000 0
22 33 Max Verstappen 0:00.000 -1:38.841 0.000 0

 

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Hamilton quickest in damp opening Australian GP practice

Lewis HamiltonThe first practice session of 2016 gave drivers the chance to sample wet, dry and intermediate tyres. Amid changeable conditions in Australia, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton came away with the fastest time, four-tenths up on Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat.

No practice results to display.

As the rain came and went at Melbourne’s Albert Park, the circuit was never totally dry during the 90 minutes, and several men took trips through the gravel. The only one to get beached was local hero Daniel Ricciardo, right at the very end of the session. The Red Bull driver was third, nonetheless, a second down on Hamilton.

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen, and Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg were fourth, fifth and sixth respectively, followed by the McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, the latter completing the most laps of anyone with 16. Force India’s Sergio Perez and Renault’s Kevin Magnussen completed the top ten.

The only men not to set times were Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

Australian Grand Prix First Practice
Pos. Car # Driver Best Time Behind Gap Laps
1 44 Lewis Hamiton 1:29.725 Leader Leader 14
2 26 Daniil Kvyat 1:30.146 -0.421 -0.421 14
3 3 Daniel Ricciardo 1:30.875 -1.150 -0.729 13
4 27 Nico Hulkenberg 1:31.325 -1.600 -0.450 7
5 33 Max Verstappen 1:31.720 -1.995 -0.395 13
6 6 Nico Roseberg 1:31.814 -2.089 -0.094 11
7 14 Fernando Alonso 1:33.060 -3.335 -1.246 11
8 22 Jenson Button 1:33.129 -3.404 -0.069 16
9 11 Sergio Perez 1:33.370 -3.645 -0.241 5
10 20 Kevin Magnussen 1:34.060 -4.335 -0.690 12
11 77 Valtteri Bottas 1:34.550 -4.825 -0.490 6
12 19 Felipe Massa 1:34.679 -4.954 -0.129 6
13 12 Felipe Nasr 1:34.796 -5.071 -0.117 7
14 30 Jolyon Palmer 1:35.477 -5.752 -0.681 12
15 9 Marcus Ericsson 1:37.956 -8.231 -2.479 6
16 94 Pascal Wehrlein 1:40.401 -10.676 -2.445 5
17 7 Kimi Raikkonen 1:40.754 -11.029 -0.353 10
18 21 Esteban Gutierrez 1:41.780 -12.055 -1.026 8
19 88 Rio Haryanto 1:43.372 -13.647 -1.592 6
20 8 Romain Grojean 1:43.443 -13.718 -0.071 6
21 5 Sebastian Vettel 0:00.000 -1:29.725 -1:43.443 8
22 55 Carlos Sainz Jr 0:00.000 -1:29.725 0.000 3

 

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Hamilton kicks off F1 title defence in style with controlled Australian GP victory

CAHt9nnU0AASy6gMercedes dominated Sunday’s 2015 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton winning as he pleased from team mate Nico Rosberg. Behind them, however, there was drama aplenty as just 11 cars took the chequered flag.

Sebastian Vettel finished on the podium on his Ferrari debut, with Williams’ sole starter Felipe Massa taking fourth ahead of star rookie Felipe Nasr, who gave Sauber their first points since 2013 on his F1 debut.

With Williams’ Valtteri Bottas already ruled out of the race thanks to a back injury, and Marussia having failed to qualify, the 17 expected starters became 15 before the lights went out, after McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen and Red Bull’s Daniel Kvyat both experienced car failures en route to the grid.

There would be further casualties on the first lap. Vettel made a slow start, allowing team mate Kimi Raikkonen to pull alongside heading into Turn 1. But as the German clipped the inside kerb he was pushed across the road and inadvertently forced Raikkonen wide over the outer kerb. Delayed, the Finn came under attack from Nasr, who also had Lotus’s Pastor Maldonado alongside. The trio pinched together, pitching Maldonado into the barriers. Exit another car.

As Raikkonen fell to eighth, Vettel chased after Massa’s Williams for the first half of the race. The pair’s fight swung on the first round of stops, with Vettel pitting later and emerging ahead. Though Massa would come back at him, Vettel was never truly troubled on his way to the podium.

Massa held on to fourth ahead of compatriot Nasr, who delivered a fantastic performance on his F1 debut. Not only did that make up for all the controversy of the preceding days, it also helped lift Sauber – who also scored through Marcus Ericsson in eighth – into third overall, behind Mercedes and Ferrari.

Daniel Ricciardo suffered the indignity of being lapped by the Mercedes right at the end, but at least took eight points for Red Bull after dropping back from challenging Nasr to finish sixth.

Force India might have lacked their 2014 pace, but Nico Hulkenberg held on for one of his trademark smooth runs to seventh, as Sergio Perez survived a collision with Jenson Button and a slow pit stop to take 10th, thus giving the team a handy seven points.

Toro Rosso were also in the points, although misfortune prevented them from scoring as strongly as their pace warranted. Sainz had looked assured in seventh until encountering delays at his first stop, and then had to be satisfied with eighth overall after being unable to resist Ericsson, shod on a set of soft tyres, in the closing stages.

Max Verstappen, meanwhile, ran very well on his F1 debut, belying his age – he became the youngest starter in F1 history – to challenge for the top six all the way until lap 42, when his STR10 started smoking and had to be retired.

Button was the final finisher after a run in which his detuned Honda engine left him prey to all and sundry whatever he did at the wheel. It was a tough afternoon for McLaren, but at least it marked the MP4-30’s first race distance, albeit one that went two laps fewer than the Mercedes.

It was a disastrous race for Lotus, as Romain Grosjean joined Maldonado in retirement on the opening lap with mechanical problems. Raikkonen was also out of luck: a delay with the left rear wheel dropped him back after his first of two planned stops, and then retired after his second stop after a problem at the same corner mean this left rear was not properly attached. Ferrari are under investigation for unsafe release.

As he foundered, Mercedes looked ominous throughout, and they duly lead both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships as a result.

In the former, Hamilton leads Rosberg with 25 points to 18, with Vettel third on 18 and Massa fourth on 12.

In the constructors’, meanwhile, the Silver Arrows already have an imposing lead: they sit on 43 points, with Ferrari and Sauber next up on 15 and 14 respectively.

Australian Grand Prix Race Results
Pos. Car # Driver Laps Behind Status Points
1 44 Lewis Hamiton 58 1:31:54.067 Running 25
2 6 Nico Roseberg 58 -1.360 Running 18
3 5 Sebastian Vettel 58 -34.523 Running 15
4 19 Felipe Massa 58 -38.196 Running 12
5 12 Felipe Nasr 58 -1:35.149 Running 10
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo 57 -1 Lap Running 8
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg 57 -1 Lap Running 6
8 9 Marcus Ericsson 57 -1 Lap Running 4
9 55 Carlos Sainz Jr 57 -1 Lap Running 2
10 11 Sergio Perez 57 -1 Lap Running 1
11 22 Jenson Button 56 -2 Laps Running 0
12 7 Kimi Raikkonen 41 Retired Wheel 0
13 33 Max Verstappen 34 Retired Engine 0
14 8 Romain Grojean 1 Retired Engine 0
15 13 Pastor Maldonado 0 Retired Accident 0
16 26 Daniil Kvyat 0 Did Not Start Did Not Start 0
17 20 Kevin Magnussen 0 Did Not Start Did Not Start 0
18 28 Will Stevens 0 Did Not Start Did Not Start 0
19 77 Valtteri Bottas 0 Did Not Start Did Not Start 0
20 98 Roberto Merhi 0 Did Not Start Did Not Start 0

 

Drivers Championship after United States
After Race 1 of the 2015 season at Australian Grand Prix
Pos. Car # Driver Team Points Behind
1 44 L. Hamiton Mercedes 25 Leader
2 6 N. Roseberg Mercedes 18 -7
3 5 S. Vettel Ferrari 15 -10
4 19 F. Massa William-Mercedes 12 -13
5 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari 10 -15
6 3 D. Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 8 -17
7 27 N. Hulkenberg Force india-Mercedes 6 -19
8 9 M. Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 4 -21
9 55 C. Sainz Jr Toro Rosso 2 -23
10 11 S. Perez Force india-Mercedes 1 -24
11 22 J. Button McLaren-Honda 0 -25
12 7 K. Raikkonen Ferrari 0 -25
13 33 M. Verstappen Toro Rosso 0 -25
14 8 R. Grojean Lotus-Mercedes 0 -25
15 13 P. Maldonado Lotus-Mercedes 0 -25
16 26 D. Kvyat Red Bull Racing-Renault 0 -25
17 20 K. Magnussen McLaren-Honda 0 -25
18 77 V. Bottas William-Mercedes 0 -25
19 28 W. Stevens Marussis-Ferrari 0 -25
20 98 R. Merhi Marussis-Ferrari 0 -25

 

Constructors Championship after United States
After Race 1 of the 2015 season at Australian Grand Prix
Pos. Team Points Behind
1 Mercedes 43 Leader
2 Ferrari 15 -28
3 Sauber-Ferrari 14 -29
4 Williams-Mercedes 12 -31
5 Red Bull Racing-Renault 8 -35
6 Force India-Mercedes 7 -36
7 Toro Rosso-Renault 2 -41
8 McLaren-Honda 0 -43
9 Lotus-Renault 0 -43
10 Marussia-Ferrari 0 -43

 

 

 

Hamilton on pole for season-opening Australian Grand Prix

CACkhu-WMAANCJDLewis Hamilton took a stunning pole position for Mercedes at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix as McLaren-Honda qualified last.

The world champion beat team-mate Nico Rosberg by more than half a second as Mercedes utterly dominated.

Williams’s Felipe Massa beat Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to third.

Meanwhile, McLaren produced their worst performance for six years as their big-budget new engine partnership with Honda got off to a terrible start.

Hamilton’s brilliant lap was 0.594 seconds quicker than Rosberg and a massive 1.391secs clear of Massa as Mercedes confirmed pre-season impressions that they will be virtually unbeatable again this season.

“It has been a great start to the weekend,” Hamilton said. “It doesn’t feel that long since the last race. It has been a big rush and huge effort form the factory to get us here with this performance.

“It is so much fun in qualifying and I am just massively grateful for all the hard work.”

Rosberg said: “Lewis was on impressive form today. He did an awesome job and nailed the time. For me, the speed was there; I just didn’t get it together.”

Williams won a tight battle with Ferrari, with just 0.072secs separating Massa in third from Kimi Raikkonen in fifth, with Sebastian Vettel in between in fourth place.

But for all the talk of a Ferrari revival, the Italian team were 1.43secs slower than Hamilton – only 0.2secs closer than they had been last year, when their former driver Fernando Alonso qualified fifth.

Following his move to McLaren, Alonso is missing this race to recover from concussion suffered in an accident in pre-season testing.

But even he would have been able to do nothing about McLaren’s poor performance – their faster driver Jenson Button in 16th place was 1.5secs off getting out of the first knock-out phase of qualifying and an effective four seconds slower than Mercedes once the effect of tyres was taken into account.

Button, who beat team-mate Kevin Magnussen by 0.6secs, remained upbeat about the potential of the new partnership with Honda.

“We know we can make big strides with this car,” Button said. “When you have a car that feels good underneath you can add downforce to it and that is what we need to do.

“That’s not saying downforce is a problem. The car is completely new, and obviously the power unit.

“I feel we can make big strides forward and that’s the exciting thing for me. It’s going to be a hard new few months but it’s worth it. Who knows where we will end up?”

Another team to struggle were former world champions Red Bull, for whom Daniel Ricciardo could manage only seventh fastest, behind Williams’s Valtteri Bottas.

Red Bull bosses are furious with engine partner Renault, who have failed to deliver any performance improvements over the winter while the engine is harder to drive than it was last year.

Spaniard Carlos Sainz impressed on his debut with Toro Rosso with eighth place, outdoing team-mate Max Verstappen, who qualified 12th on the occasion of setting a new record for the youngest driver to compete in F1 at 17.

The Lotus drivers Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado completed the top 10, as Sauber’s Felipe Nasr, another rookie, was a strong 11th.

Australian Grand Prix Qualifying Results
Pos. Car # Driver Q1 Q2 Q3 Gap Laps
1 44 Lewis Hamiton 1:28.586 1:26.894 1:26.327 Leader 15
2 6 Nico Roseberg 1:28.906 1:27.097 1:26.921 -0.594 13
3 19 Felipe Massa 1:29.246 1:27.895 1:27.718 -0.797 20
4 5 Sebastian Vettel 1:29.307 1:27.742 1:27.757 -0.039 11
5 7 Kimi Raikkonen 1:29.754 1:27.807 1:27.790 -0.033 16
6 77 Valtteri Bottas 1:29.641 1:27.796 1:28.087 -0.297 15
7 3 Daniel Ricciardo 1:29.788 1:28.679 1:28.329 -0.242 21
8 55 Carlos Sainz Jr 1:29.597 1:28.601 1:28.510 -0.181 21
9 8 Romain Grojean 1:29.537 1:28.589 1:28.560 -0.050 19
10 13 Pastor Maldonado 1:29.990 1:28.726 1:29.480 -0.920 19
11 12 Felipe Nasr 1:30.430 1:28.800 Eliminated 0.680 16
12 33 Max Verstappen 1:29.248 1:28.868 Eliminated -0.068 14
13 26 Daniil Kvyat 1:30.402 1:29.070 Eliminated -0.202 8
14 27 Nico Hulkenberg 1:29.651 1:29.208 Eliminated -0.138 13
15 11 Sergio Perez 1:29.847 1:29.209 Eliminated -0.001 12
16 9 Marcus Ericsson 1:31.376 Eliminated -2.167 9
17 22 Jenson Button 1:31.422 Eliminated -0.046 6
18 20 Kevin Magnussen 1:32.037 Eliminated -0.615 7
19 28 Will Stevens 0:00.000 Eliminated 92.037 0
20 98 Roberto Merhi 0:00.000 Eliminated 0.000 0

 

 

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