Formula 1

Hamilton On Pole As Qualifying Is Slammed.

Lewis Hamilton is on pole positing for the Australian Grand Prix amidst criticism of the new qualifying system.

Lewis Hamilton is on pole position for the Australian Grand Prix amidst criticism of the new elimination qualifying system.

Hamilton was 0.360 seconds faster than his team mate Nico Rosberg as the pair manage the first front row lock out of the season for Mercedes. The pole, is Hamilton’s 50th career pole. Sebastian Vettel was third in his Ferrari, a further 0.478 behind Rosberg. With Kimi Raikkonen behind his team mate in fourth.

Elsewhere down the grid it was a positive day for the Toro Rosso’s of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz. Both drivers made it into Q3 and qualified fifth and seventh respectively, with only the Williams of Felipe Massa between the two. Toro Rosso were even able to beat their senior sister team Red Bull. Daniel Riccardo struggled to eighth on the grid, while team mate Daniil Kvyat starts all the way down in eighteenth on the grid.

The two Force India’s make up the top ten, with Sergio Perez ahead of Nico Hulkenberg. Then it’s the Williams of Valtteri Bottas, who’s fast lap was compromised by a mistake. The McLaren’s of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button took twelfth and thirteenth, a huge improvement on their dismal 2015 positions. While British rookie Jolyon Palmer managed fourteenth position on his first ever qualifying session. He was ahead of his team mate Kevin Magnussen who qualified fifteenth.

The Sauber’s of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr are sixteenth and seventeenth. Kvyat is eighteenth. Haas’s Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez are nineteenth and twentieth. While the Manor’s of Rio Haryanto and Pascal Wehrlein bring up the grid. Haryanto will start at the back though due to a three place grid penalty incurred for an unsafe relase that saw him hit Grosjean in free practice three this morning.

The new style of Qualifying has been heavily criticised, with the track empty of all cars in the last five minutes of the final session. Pundits, drivers, and team principals alike have been quick to criticise the new style of qualifying.

While Q1 and Q2 were entertaining with fights even between Hamilton and the Haas of Romain Grosjean for track space. Q3, which is supposed to be the crescendo of qualifying fell flat, resulting in a disappointing end to the events.

“It didn’t really work for me,” Christian Horner said in an interview. “We have not really put on a show. To have Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen in fast cars not taking part with five minutes to go is wrong. We need to learn from it and address it quickly. I think it needs to be done for [the next race in] Bahrain, personally.”

Timings and results of each qualifying session.

1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:23.837
2. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:24.197
3. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:24.675
4. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:25.033
5. Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, 1:2:434
6. Felipe Massa, Williams, 1:15.458
7. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, 1:25.582
8. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:25.589

9. Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:25.753
10. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:25.865
11. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:25.961
12. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:26.125
13. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:26.304
14. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 1:27.601
15. Kevin Magnussen, Renault, 1:27.742

16. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:27.435
17. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, 1:27.958
18. Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, 1:28.006
19. Romain Grosjean, Haas, 1:28.322
20. Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, 1:29.606
21. Rio Haryanto, Manor, 1:29.627 (Subject to a three place grin penalty for unsafe release)
22. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, 1:29.642

The 2016 Australian GP is on from 5:00AM GMT tomorrow.

Feature Image Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas Press release.

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