Qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne saw Lewis Hamilton take pole position in his Mercedes AMG F1, edging out team mate Rosberg and the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.
Carlos Sainz is the first to venture out on track. He used the medium tyre to record a 1:33.034. Both Lotus drivers slotted in behind moments later while Nasr in the Sauber and Max Verstappen in the other Toro Rosso recorded a faster time.
Interestingly, Ferrari then went out with both cars, immediately shod on the soft tyre. Turned out though that others managed to go faster on the medium, even though it took them a number of laps to get the tyres up to their optimal working temperature. Nico Rosberg was the first to top the times on mediums, followed by his team mate who did the same with 6 minutes left on the clock.
4 minutes later, with both Ferraris, Mercedes and Bottas already calm in the pits, Massa goes third fastest just after Verstappen did so as well.
At around the same time, Kvyat records his first time of the session, going 14th fastest and securing a place in Q2. Marcus Ericsson however in the Sauber, along with Button and Magnussen are unable to post good enough times to get through and are eliminated. As Manor decided not to run as they simply couldn't get their cars ready in time, it also means that the debut for McLaren Honda will happen from the back of the grid.
In the second part of qualifying, Felipe Nasr was the first man out, but he returned to the pits without setting a time on the board. Moments later it was Massa and then Hulkenberg who recorded the first times.
Mercedes soon joined the action and set the record straight. Hamilton immediately moved up into P1 with a 1:26.894, a tenth ahead of his team mate. Vettel and Raikkonen slotted in behind, confirming Ferrari's improved form, even though they're almost a second down on the Mercedes cars. Behind the Ferraris are the Williams cars of Bottas an Massa with Sainz, Grosjean, Ricciardo and Verstappen completing the top 10 before the final runs.
The first of those final runs came from Maldonado. The Venezuelan was in the garage until the very last moment, going out for just a single flying lap and just securing a place in Q3 with the 10th fastest time. Sainz also improved again in the dying seconds to get through to Q3, ahead of Ricciardo in the fastest Red Bull Racing car.
Eliminated are Nasr, Verstappen, Kvyat, Hulkenberg and Perez.
In Q3, Raikkonen is the first to set a time, but Hamilton quickly makes an end to the fin topping the timesheet, posting a 1:26.419 on his first outing. Valtteri Bottas meanwhile overshot the braking in turn 1 while Nico Rosberg did the same and ran through the grass in the penultimate corner, immediately diving back into the pits.
Sebastian Vettel then became the logical number 2, ahead of Massa, pushing Raikkonen down into 4th. Maldonado posted 5th, ahead of Ricciardo, Grosjean and Sainz.
Ricciardo is then the first to complete his second flyer, moving up into third before Raikkonen, Bottas and Rosberg got back ahead.
Hamilton at the very front however was unthreatened and even improved another tenth on his second attempt, starting his season as the reigning World Champion in the best possible way.
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:29.788||1:28.679||1:28.329||22|
|8||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||1:29.597||1:28.601||1:28.510||22|
|12||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||1:29.248||1:28.868||15|
|13||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull||1:30.402||1:29.070||9|
|14||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:29.651||1:29.208||14|
|15||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:29.990||1:29.209||13|
|DNS||Will Stevens||Marussia||No time|
|DNS||Roberto Merhi||Marussia||No time|