Vettel storms to Melbourne pole as Hamilton snatches second

2011 Australian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Melbourne, 2011

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Melbourne, 2011

Sebastian Vettel was fastest in all three parts of qualifying for the second year in a row to take pole position for the Australian Grand Prix.

He shares the front row of the grid with Lewis Hamilton, who pipped Mark Webber to second place despite losing KERS during his final lap.


Sebastian Vettel was fastest in the first part of qualifying but the biggest surprise in Q1 was Ferrari’s apparent lack of pace.

Both Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa had to use a set of soft tyres to guarantee their progression to Q2.

Massa only made it through thanks to a last-gasp lap which moved him up from 18th to 11th.

He made it through at the expense of Nick Heidfeld, who was held up by a HRT on one of his laps.

Despite having done little practice running the two HRTs managed to do 11 laps each. But Vitantonio Liuzzi’s best effort of 1’32.978 was 1.7 seconds slower than the 107% time, and Narain Karthikeyan was even slower, meaning neither will start the race unless they receive a dispensation.

Lotus and Virgin also lost both cars in the first session.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18 Nick Heidfeld Renault 1’27.239
19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1’29.254
20 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1’29.342
21 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’29.858
22 Jerome d’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1’30.822
23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1’32.978
24 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’34.293


The beginning of Q2 was disrupted when Rubens Barrichello spun into the gravel at turn three. He was unable to get out, bringing his qualifying to an end and forcing several drivers to abandon their laps due to the flags.

Vettel topped the times once again with half a second in hand over Lewis Hamilton after both had done times on soft tyres.

Ferrari got both drivers through but Michael Schumacher failed in his effort to get into the top ten. He fell short of eliminating Sebastien Buemi by a tenth of a second on his final run.

Also out were Jaime Alguersuari, Sergio Perez, Paul di Resta and Pastor Maldonado.

Adrian Sutil was eliminated after a lurid spin as he seemed to activate his Drag Reduction System too soon coming onto the start/finish straight.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’25.971
12 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’26.103
13 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’26.108
14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’26.739
15 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1’26.768
16 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’31.407
17 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth


No-one could get close to Vettel in the final part of qualifying, even though he was running with his Kinetic Energy Recovery System deactivated. Even his own team mate was more than eight tenths of a second slower.

Hamilton beat Webber to second place by less than a tenth of a second, despite his Kinetic Energy Recovery System also failing during his last lap.

Alonso finds himself in close proximity with Vitaly Petrov once again on row three.

Nico Rosberg starts seventh alongside the other Ferrari of Felipe Massa, who had a spin on his way out of the pits.

Row five is shared by Kamui Kobayashi and Sebastien Buemi.

Top ten in Q3

1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’23.529
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’24.307
3 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’24.395
4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’24.779
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’24.974
6 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’25.247
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’25.421
8 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’25.599
9 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’25.626
10 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’27.066

2011 Australian Grand Prix

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204 comments on Vettel storms to Melbourne pole as Hamilton snatches second

  1. LSL said on 26th March 2011, 7:39

    Hi guys, i wasn’t watching the BBC feed, i followed the session on a local TV.
    In the fastest lap, Vettel didn’t use KERS, according to the Graphic Interface.
    Some people say KERS can make your lap 0,4-0,6s better?
    so why didn’t he pressed the button?, or it was removed from his car, so it was much (i don’t know, it must weight at least 50-60kg) lighter? was it mentioned in the BBC feed, or do you guys know something?
    it surely can’t be 50kg lighter, they have fill it up with ballast or something?


    someone commented earlier an ALO win. Well, i’m a huge ferrari fan, but i just really can’t see ANY real scenario when he could be on top. Yeah i know, everybody can get mech. failure, rain SC, but these are 1% chances:S

    • robbiepblake (@driftin) said on 26th March 2011, 7:41

      Don’t write Alonso off just yet. The Ferrari’s speed was slow compared to testing and practice but this is Australia we’re talking about, where tonnes of crashes happen on the first corner.

      • LSL said on 26th March 2011, 7:49

        well i know, but even he he didn’t mess up the last sector, he is still 0,6-0,8 behind vettel, that big of a gap is not going to disappear :\. well in my opinion, last years australian grand prix was the best by far.

        Ohh yeah, and thanks the DRS, we won’t see another abu dhabi, where his superb F-Duct helped a lot for Petrov, and it was probably he’s only race where he didn’t messed up a single corner (remember spa…), but also it was his last race, so he may be in the same form:D

        • I believe it was not only f-duct but also Petrov’s fresh engine.
          And let’s not forget that Abu Dhabi is just super-dull track in terms of overtaking.

          Also remember Turkey when Petrov was able to keep Alonso behind for good part of the race despite Fernando’s engineer opinion that Vitaly will make mistake very soon.
          And with all that Alonso overtook very aggressively when Petrov’s tyres degraded severely. That maneuver sent Petrov to the pits with puncture, leaving him out of the points.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 26th March 2011, 8:16

        Then again, he is next to Petrov, who was just the guy to get some of those collisions started last year with his quick getaway from the grid. Alonso himself might remember last years race as well.

      • Alex Bkk (@alex-bkk) said on 26th March 2011, 14:13

        I think it really down to getting heat into the tyres. Track temps were about 20C today. It may be a problem for a few of the teams.

        Good news is… summer is coming up soon.

    • Bren said on 26th March 2011, 11:10

      Did vettel use kers at any point in qualy?

      if he didnt, then he wasnt running it and moved the ballast else where. cos the difference is huge. and that would be a good reason.

      as said kers teams werent that fast in 09.

  2. Shimks (@shimks) said on 26th March 2011, 7:42

    What’s going to be funny is if Alonso gets stuck behind Petrov for a second race in a row!

  3. Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 26th March 2011, 7:43

    Alonso’s lap was going well until the final sector. My reading of that is that his tyres gave up on him in the last few corners.

    That has to be ominous for him as he has to start the race on those tyres.

    Vettel was untouchable, so all credit to him – and well done to the rookies, all of whom did very well. Last place for d’Ambrosio might not seem like much but making the 107% cut is an achievement in itself.

    • AndresM (@andresm) said on 26th March 2011, 7:59

      Absolutely! The rookies have been great I expected more from Maldonado but Segio Perez has been great

    • Lemon (@lemon) said on 26th March 2011, 8:02

      I dont get the feeling that Alonso had a poor last sector, infact it was a recurring trend with all the cars. I think it was just the ridiculous speed and traction of the redbull through the last few turns where most others were struggling for grip! for instance lewis was just 2 or 3 tenths off vettel at the end of the second sector only to lose a further 5 tenths through the last few corners.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 26th March 2011, 8:17

      I agree, with both Alonso and earlier with Schumi it was clear that the tyres lost it in the last sector.

      And Virgin did a pretty big step from yesterday, they improved by over a second. Good job.

    • Alex Bkk (@alex-bkk) said on 26th March 2011, 14:19

      I wonder if using less of the KERS and the FFW isn’t the faster way to do a quicker lap. The faster you are going,the harder you have to break and you have to break more often, meaning less speed through the corners.

      Slow down to go fast. Anyone?

  4. AndresM (@andresm) said on 26th March 2011, 7:45

    I am still shocked with Vettel’s turn. Simply unbelievable. The face of Webber said it all.

    As hard as it is to me to say this; Hamilton has been impressive also, hats off.

    As a Ferrari fan I cannot believe what I have seen today at both P3 and Quali, back to square one I am afraid

    I wonder what could have happen if Kubica had been on track today, looking at Petrov’s time I believe he could have easily been in the fight for the first line.

    I believe this is going to be another incredible racing season

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 26th March 2011, 7:53

      I think Petrov put in a stellar performance during quali today, and that really makes you wonder how fast the Renault could actually go. I’m sure Kubica would have been able to get that car on row 2, and I’m disappointed with Nick’s performance today.

  5. Todfod (@todfod) said on 26th March 2011, 7:46

    I know that its too soon to tell, but Ferrari are not as close to the Red bull as they were thinking. Alonso is gonna have a tough job this season..

  6. Mikos said on 26th March 2011, 7:47

    unless webber has a pretty good excuse thats his year already looking over for me, and im a long term fan. To lose 3 tenths in the first sector alone – a couple of heavy breaking points and then medium speed turns is a shocker unless he has a lump of lead under his helmet. Watching vettel on board looked like his car was super fast and on rails compared with for example m shumacher.
    I wish webber all the best for the race, I dont think he’s 8 tenths slower than vettel…

  7. RandomChimp said on 26th March 2011, 7:51

    ‘Tis a day for huge gaps between team mates it seems.
    Could teams be experimenting with setup differences which lean towards either race or qualifying for each driver, what with DRS not being used to assist lap time much in the race?
    I’m thinking a setup with less downforce would give better ultimate race lap time than higher downforce plus DRS can in the race, despite losing out slightly in quali.
    I hope I worded that well enough to be understandable.

    • Mikef117 said on 26th March 2011, 8:48

      An interesting theory RC. I would not be surprised if teams are still hedging their bets on set up.

      As a Team manager/strategist you have many new “toys” to play with and to accommodate – new tyre supplier, 2/3/4 pitstops also affects fuel loads, DRS, KERS.

      For me it was wrong to allow unlimited DRS in quali but not in the race for exactly the reason you suggest.

      • RandomChimp (@randomchimp) said on 26th March 2011, 11:42

        For me it was wrong to allow unlimited DRS in quali but not in the race for exactly the reason you suggest.

        For me, its unlimited use in quali raises the possibility of more interesting and fun races to watch, with cars which are optimised for either quali or race. The faster quali cars might have the advantage of position but have to defend harder from cars which are better set up for non DRS running.

        P.S. this comment is intended both as a response to Mikef117 and a clarification of the badly written point in my first post.

  8. TommyB (@tommyb89) said on 26th March 2011, 7:52

    So the Red Bull is beatable in Qualifying. Just not Vettel’s.

  9. Mild7Nick said on 26th March 2011, 7:55

    So what did everyone make of the new Brundle and DC combo? I actually thought they were really good, Brundle was cool and calm, only got excited when there was a reason to be excited instead of ranting like a dog on heat like a certain previous commentator

    • RandomChimp said on 26th March 2011, 7:58

      Thought they were brilliant.
      They did seem a little awkward at times, particularly DC, but I guess that was inevitable to begin with.

    • Boris84 (@) said on 26th March 2011, 8:09

      In my TV we have the most awful commentator! he is a fan of the two riders and constantly about them says! “This is terrible!

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 26th March 2011, 8:18

      It worked pretty good. DC has nice accurate info and a few good spots of what was going on there.

      Remember he tipped Sutil lost the car with using KERS while the DRS was activated.

    • Jarred Walmsley (@jarred-walmsley) said on 26th March 2011, 8:31

      I definetely think it was much improved, however can someone shed light on who the commentators were in FP3 as they didn’t sound like Brundle and DC?

      • tomforpresident said on 26th March 2011, 11:01

        the practice sessions would have had the 5live commentary team, which on friday was David Croft and Maurice Hamilton. Didnt catch FP3 so i can only assume it was the same line up again.

    • TomD11 (@tomd11) said on 26th March 2011, 9:36

      Much better. I’d almost forgotten what it was like not to be filled with a white hot rage while listening to the quali and race commentary :P

    • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 26th March 2011, 11:05

      I highly rate them both, although the one downside is that with both being former (reasonably recent) drivers they both tend to give the same kind of detailed information and opinion which rather overlaps.

      I find it amazing how much detail they can pick up from the images on TV (such as the amount of front suspension travel). I’ve been watching and reading about F1 (fanatically) for over 20 years and am still amazed at their observation of details.

      I think the real test will come in the race though, when it is important for the commentators to pick up on what’s happening right through the field when different strategies are being employed and how that comes together. I found that Brundle was pretty good at that some times last year, but other times would completely miss something which would be fundamentally important as the race shook out. Hopefully between the two of them they will now pick up almost everything (since Legard didn’t have a clue what was happening most of the time last year).

  10. Malibu_GP said on 26th March 2011, 7:55

    WOW! I didn’t imagine the season opening Quali would be this exciting! Vitaly 6th, Kamui 9th, and Buemi rounding out the top 10! I am elated that I get to witness every minute in stunning 1080i compliments of Bernie and Speedtv. I’m telling You, The withdrawal I suffer over the winter is unbearable. And how about that RB7’s performance? Seb Vettel was sublime…, And Haters, I waited till after the FP sessions to tell Ya; Be afraid, Be very afraid. If McLaren have managed to claw this much back so quickly, then imagine the progress we will see in response to their blistering development pace. Lewis is fit, looking superquik and focused. The ferrari’s looked clumsy and unsettled. They’d better get it sorted… Thank Everything good that My pain has abated, the sport I love above all others (except surfing) is back in all it’s Hi-Def glory!! We will witness an epic season fellow fanatics…, looking forward to the journey…

  11. SennaNmbr1 (@) said on 26th March 2011, 8:06

    Any thoughts on the commentary of Brundle and Coulthard? I thought it was largely excellent, but two points stood out.

    Firstly, Brundle’s introduction sounded quite forced, but this will obviously improve as he becomes more comfortable. Same for his announcing that each qualifying session has started.

    Also, I think in Q1 he asked Coulthard a question about the importance of grid position or something, as if he didn’t know the answer. Just sounded a bit wrong for a very experienced driver to be asking another very experienced driver questions that he definitely knows the answers to.

    Only a couple of gripes but the pairing works extremely well. Better than Legard/Brundle already.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 26th March 2011, 8:20

      Agree, but after that start it set off into a really nice show.

      I think its nice DC has a bit more recent F1 experience. And he seems good at spotting exactly what is happening, like with Sutil losing it and Schu losing out in the last sector.

  12. recidivist said on 26th March 2011, 8:13

    Neither RBR used KERS, for “internal reasons”…

    If the front row have lunched their tyres to get pole, MW & JB might have a useful afternoon tomorrow.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 26th March 2011, 8:22

      Where did you get that from?

      Would be quite intersting, seems like one of them having a problem and deciding not to ruin their battle.

      They must have been just as supprised about the McLaren boys getting as close then. Otherwise it would have been to big a risk.

    • Jake said on 26th March 2011, 9:47

      The driver’s gave reason of ” i couldn’t find the button” (Vettel) and “it’s a secret”, so something very odd going on there.

      • Jake said on 26th March 2011, 9:47

        clearly not using it is giving them an advantage

        • Bren said on 26th March 2011, 11:13

          yep if it wasnt used at all in qualy then the unit wasnt on and the ballast used else where.

          tho id be amazed if this wasnt tried already in testing. cos in 09 kers werent fast.

          ok now they are all heavier. but still, it clearly would of been worth a try surely.

  13. th13teen said on 26th March 2011, 8:29

    It will be one hell of a race tommorow, Red Bull V Mclaren all to the pole! Seb may be in front for the start but considering there will be 2-3 Pit stops its going to make for an interesting end result!

  14. Sijs said on 26th March 2011, 8:43

    Did anyone else notice Webber Checking on Vettel’s front wing after the session. As if to suggest ‘you got a different wing mate’. And they both didn’t seem to look eye-to-eye during that post-qualification coverage. Anyway lets hope everything is not well between them and they take out each other. Because thats the only way this season will be exciting.

    • Toro Stevo (@toro-stevo) said on 26th March 2011, 13:38

      I caught it too. He was looking under the left side of the front wing, a part which Brundle and Coulthard had mentioned earlier in the broadcast. Something about how the left hand side of the Red Bull front wings were coming off or loose (I didn’t quite catch it).

      Webber was definitely looking at that particular part.

      I predict the moaning about flexing wings to reappear very quickly again this year.

  15. Mikef117 said on 26th March 2011, 9:09

    So now we wait with bated breath, regardless of who we ultimately support, to see whether the tyre degradation is going to come into play.

    All the “big” teams used more soft tyres than I expected. I thought they would do as little running as possible on the softs to save them for the race but the way they went through them would suggest that the hards will be more important tomorrow.

    It also opens up the possibility that the front runners could be the first to pit, and be forced to pit early, dropping them into the midfield battle and all the agro that introduces. I don’t think that will necessarily be a problem for the likes of Hamilton and Alonso, but could well compromise Vettel merely because he is not as comfortable overtaking. You also expose your driver to the risk of accidents.

    It almost seems that winning pole could actually hurt your chances of a race win.

    And all this uncertainty in glorious HD, you couldn’t ask for more.

    • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 26th March 2011, 11:12

      Vettel’s qualification time was 2.4s faster than Schumacher (probably the first runner on hard tyres tomorrow). Even allowing for a smaller gap in the race he should build up a big cushion in a fairly short period of time, and with perhaps only a couple of cars to pass, on fresher tyres, with DRS, even Vettel should be ok.

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