Interesting facts before the Australian Grand Prix

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Formula One returns to action this weekend as the field descends in Melbourne, Australia. The race in the Albert Park will kick off the 70th running of the Formula One World Championship.

The first pole position of the season went to Lewis Hamilton, at the end of this afternoon’s qualifying session for the 2019 Australian Grand Prix. With Valtteri Bottas’s second place, Mercedes locked out the front row of the grid. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel grabbed the third place while Red Bull Honda’s Max Verstappen went on to secure the fourth position on the grid with his late attack. Ferrari’s newcomer Charles Leclerc will make his debut in red from the fifth place.

History of the Australian Grand Prix

This weekend’s race will the the 84th edition of the Australian Grand Prix. It was first run at Phillip Island in 1928. The country first appeared on the GP calendar in 1985 with the race taking place at the Adelaide Street Circuit. From 1996 it has been held at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit at Albert Park in Melbourne.

Michael Schumacher still holds the record of the fastest lap. The German clocked a 1m24.125 in his Ferrari during the 2004 Australian Grand Prix. The fastest ever lap was recorded by Lewis Hamilton during today’s qualifying session. In the dying minutes of today’s all important session, the Briton set a laptime of 1m20.486 to claim the first pole position of the 2019 season.

Considering only the Grands Prix which were parts of the F1 calendars, McLaren is the most successful constructor with its 11 wins. Ferrari is the second on this list with 9 triumphs. Williams in the next in the row with five wins. Mercedes has won three times while Renault was successful on two occasions.

Michael Schumacher is the most successful driver in the history of the Australian Grand Prix, winning on four occasions. Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel have both won three races at Melbourne. The group of the two-time Australian GP winners is made up of Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Davind Coulthard, Ayrton Senna, Gerhard Berger, Damon Hill and Kimi Räikkönen.

Saturday’s qualifying session

Interestingly, Formula-1’s all newcomers managed to beat their team-mates during today’s qualifying session. George Russel grabbed the 19th position in front of his GP winner team-mate Robert Kubica. Inside the McLaren camp, newcomer Lando Norris showed a surprising pace to secure the eighth start position for tomorrow’s 58-lap-long race. His team-mate Carlos Sainz’s afternoon's running was relatively short after the Spaniard was knocked out in the first qualifying session. Toro Rosso’s debutant Alexander Albon finished in the 13th position, two places ahead of it returning team-mate Daniil Kvyat.

Mercedes enjoyed a healthy margin in front of its fierce rival, Ferrari. After struggling with the W10’s balance during pre-season testing, the Anglo-German team found the harmony with its car from the word go on the street circuit of Melbourne. The best non-Mercedes entrant Sebastian Vettel was 0.704 off the pace which shocked the whole Ferrari camp. The deficit was the most significant in the first two sectors of the 5.303km-long circuit. Vettel was 0.202 seconds slower in the first sector compared to Hamilton’s best time of 26.613. In the middle sector, Valtteri Bottas set the absolute best time with a 21.877. Despite to Ferrari’s strong power unit package, Vettel collected a deficit of 0,295 through this relatively short track section. In the final sector, the German was only 0.123 down on Hamilton’s best time of 31.911.

In terms of top end speed, Ferrari’s positions are surprising. While their last year’s car, the SF70-H usually found its way to the top when it came to straight-line speed, the SF90 was relatively slow compared to its rivals. Through the speed trap, Vettel was only 19th while Leclerc 13th fastest. The highest top speeds were produced by Sergio Perez (322.5 kph, Mercedes PU) and Antonio Giovinazzi (322.4 kph, Ferrari PU). Hamilton’s top speed of 319.0 kph was 3.1 kph higher than the one of Vettel. Through the line at the end of the first sector, the quadruple champion produced only the 17th fastest time, at the border line between Sector 2 and 3, he was only 15th while his top speed at the finish line was only good enough for a 16th place.