F1 – Australian GP – Qualifying
F1 is back! The unique challenge of the Albert Park Street Circuit in Melbourne plays host to the opening round of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship.
There was a real sense of anticipation in the air as Q1 got underway, with so many questions to be answered. Does Ferrari or Mercedes have the quickest car? How will Leclerc fair against Vettel? Who’s leading the midfield battle?
Robert Kubica had the first qualifying crash of the season as he tagged the barriers and suffered a puncture, which ruined his hot lap. However, in truth, everyone expected the two Williams cars to qualify 19th & 20th anyway – which is exactly what happened with Russell ahead of Kubica’s damaged car. Carlos Sainz finished Q1 in 18th and Lance Stroll finished 16th, both not a huge surprise given the pace we’ve seen from McLaren and Racing Point through pre-season testing and free practice. However, the big shock of the session was Pierre Gasly being eliminated in 17th for Red Bull! The Frenchman will be bitterly disappointed. With only one second separating the top 18 cars – this could be an incredible season.
Q2 ran without major incident, and no major surprises either. Having said that, Renault will be frustrated with both cars being eliminated in 11th & 12th with Nico Hulkenberg 0.008 seconds quicker than Daniel Ricciardo. Alexander Albon was 13th for Toro Rosso, out-qualifying his more experienced team mate, Daniil Kvyat who was 15th. Eliminated in 14th was Antonio Giovinazzi.
Q3 was .. anti-climactic to say the least. All through pre-season testing, the Ferrari looked like the best car, not just in terms of pace but visual car dynamics too. So for Lewis Hamilton to take pole position by 0.704 seconds from Ferrari is fairly shocking – and disappointing for the fans who are looking for a competitive season at the front of the grid. Valtteri Bottas qualified 2nd to make it a Mercedes 1-2. Max Verstappen finished 4th ahead of Charles Leclerc who had a poor lap. The two Haas driver confirmed their new “best of the rest” status with 6th & 7th – Romain Grosjean ahead of Kevin Magnussen. Lando Norris finished 8th; a very strong qualifying session for the rookie. Kimi Raikkonen qualified 9th for Alfa Romeo and Sergio Perez placed 10th for Racing Point; a result they probably didn’t expect.
What are your thoughts after qualifying? I am a little under-whelmed by the gaps between the top ten myself. MiniDrivers would love to hear from you, leave us a comment below. Also, go ahead and make a podium prediction for tomorrow.