Lewis Hamilton yet again stormed to pole position down under in Melbourne with team mate Bottas second locking out the front row for Mercedes and sending a clear message out to Ferrari and Red Bull that the current champions are still the team to beat.
Second and third row for Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc will start the Australian Grand Prix from the second and third row of the grid respectively. It was not the easiest of sessions for the Scuderia and it ended with Sebastian third fastest and Charles fifth. The race gets underway at 16h10 local time (06h10 CET.)
Q1. In the first part of qualifying, Vettel was the only driver to go through to the next part on Medium tyres in a time of 1’22”885. Leclerc did a 1’23”326 which led him to go for a set of Softs, producing a 1’22” 0217 to easily get through to the next part.
Q2. Only Softs were used and Sebastian posted a 1’21”912 and Charles a 1’21”739 which saw them comfortably make it to the final ten minutes to decide the top ten places on the grid.
Q3. In the final shoot-out, Sebastian soon posted a lap in 1’21”250, good enough for third place. The German managed to improve on his second run, getting down to 1’21”190. On his first run, Charles did a 1’21”442, which would be his best time, as the number 16 driver made a mistake at the wheel of his SF90 on his second run and had to settle for fifth on the grid.
Sebastian Vettel #5
“Starting tomorrow’s race from third is not too bad and the car is ok, even if it’s not exactly how we would like it and we are not as fast as we wanted to be. But we’ll start from there and see what we can bring home. This track is unique and conditions are different to what we experienced in testing. We have definitely improved the car overnight, but obviously not enough to be in front of everyone. In tomorrow’s race we’ll have time to understand the car further. We will race as hard as we can and see where that takes us. After all, we are just 16 metres behind pole position”.
Charles Leclerc #16
“I can’t say I’m happy with this qualifying result. After a good Q1 and a very good Q2, in Q3, especially on my second run, I made a few too many mistakes, especially in the first sector and I was unable to improve. I will try to learn from this and to prepare as well as possible for the race. As for the gap to our main competitors, I have to admit that maybe we had expected it to be smaller, even if this is an unusual track which often throws up a different order to what we can see on a more traditional track. On our side, I think there is still room to work on the car and the race is tomorrow and will be pretty long, so I am still aiming for a podium. I will definitely have to get a perfect start, because overtaking is far from easy here.”
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal
“We can’t say this was the result we were expecting, but we are well aware that Albert Park is not an ideal track for us, as its characteristics do not suit our car that well. Of course, we must improve, but we have gathered a great deal of information to identify the areas on which we must work. As usual, Seb showed that he knows how to use every centimetre of the track and Charles got through his first real test, a few little errors notwithstanding. Ahead of us, we have another 20 qualifying sessions and 21 races, so it’s a long game and we’re ready to play it.”