Lewis Hamilton has taken pole for the Australian Grand Prix, managing the tricky wet circuit at Melbourne. Home driver Daniel Ricciardo managed to post the second time while World Champion Sebastian Vettel is down in 13th.
Notably thanks to the different qualifying format that sees Q1 being shortened by 2 minutes, most cars are out immediately to set a banker and try to ensure a place into Q2. Both Mercedes AMG cars were waiting at the end of the pitlane side by side to make sure they were the first to get going and discover the track during this qualifying session.
5 minutes later, Ricciardo is on top of the timesheet, ahead of Magnussen and Massa. Alonso is fourth fastest just ahead of the rain, having soon realised that he needed to switch from the medium to the soft tyres. Button is 5th, ahead of Bottas, Hamilton, Vettel, Raikkonen and Rosberg.
As the predicted shower arrived 6 minutes into the session it soon proved impossible for others to improve past this moment. This means that Chilton is 16th, Bianchi, Gutierrez, Ericsson, Grosjean and Maldonado. Grosjean was 2 seconds away from Ericsson's Caterham pace while Pastor Maldonado didn't get around setting a time, instead spending most of his three laps in the gravel trap.
Q2 kicks off on a very damp track, still nearly everybody is opting for the intermediates. The 15 minute session is started by Bottas, the latter immediately ending up in the grass through turn 3 but he's easily able to continue.
The first timed lap is obviously for Bottas, but Massa son goes faster and Rosberg shaves off another half a second of that time. One minute later it's Ricciardo who goes fastest.
Bottas' second lap is much better, easily going fastest, but with the track drying slowly the time was not set to hold for long. Alonso, Rosberg, Hamilton, Bottas and Ricciardo all exchanged top spots before the final dash of laps on new intermediates.
Immediately after Rosberg set the best time of the session, Kimi Raikkonen ends up in the wall at turn 3, creating a yellow flag zone that would prevent anybody else still having to cross that corner to still improve. Magnussen though had just passed and managed to improve to 5th. Vettel as well, but the World Champion only improved to 13th, more than 2 seconds slower than his team mate Daniel Ricciardo who posted the second fastest time.
Alonso is third fastest in Q2, ahead of Hamilton, Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Vergne, Bottas, Massa and Kvyat. Eliminated are Button, Raikkonen, Vettel, Sutil, Kobayashi and Perez.
With more rain following the end of Q2, everybody except Alonso is out on the full wets in the final part of qualifying. The Spaniard however chose intermediates but soon appears to have chosen badly, lapping 3 seconds slower than Rosberg. Hamilton slotted into second place, ahead of Hulkenberg, Vergne, Kvyat and Ricciardo.
4 minutes from the end, Ricciardo is the first to come into the pits and change to intermediates. Hulkenberg follows suit while Alonso just changed to new intermediates. Some however didn't change, ending up with 5 cars on full wets and 5 on inters in the final minute.
30 seconds from the end, Kvyat slid into the wall but with only minor damage, others were able to continue with their flying laps.
As the chequered flag fell, Hamilton took pole, pipping Ricciardo. Nico Rosberg is third, Magnussen fourth and Alonso fifth.
|2||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:30.775||1:42.295||1:44.548||20|
|7||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:33.893||1:43.658||1:46.030||20|
|13||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:31.931||1:44.668||-||13|
|16||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:34.141||1:47.293||-||13|
|22||13||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus-Renault||No time||-||-||3|