Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Melbourne, 2011

Vettel storms to Melbourne pole as Hamilton snatches second

2011 Australian Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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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Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images

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

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  1. 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…

  2. RandomChimp
    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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. On the other hand, there may be next to no difference between DRS and non-DRS optimised set-ups.

        2. Ermmm… Yes,Seb’s Q pace was a bit intimidating, but I think that race pace is a bit more important.

          We know from testing that the Ferrari is reliable.
          We can’t say the same about the McLaren.

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

    1. Or, Red Bulls are unbeatable. Except for Hamilton

  4. 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

    1. RandomChimp
      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.

    2. Boris84 (@)
      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!

    3. 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.

    4. 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?

      1. tomforpresident
        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.

    5. 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

    6. 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).

  5. 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…

    1. This just made me hit myself in the head for missing qualifying…stupid medication…

    2. Its in 720p not 1080i.

  6. SennaNmbr1 (@)
    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.

    1. 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.

  7. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. clearly not using it is giving them an advantage

        1. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

    1. 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.

  10. 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.

    1. 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.

  11. Question: How are this years cars faster than lastyears with the decrease in downforce levels and the extra minimum weight??????

    1. somerandomguy
      26th March 2011, 10:09

      I know I thought this years cars were meant to be slower

    2. Possibly the way they are rerouting exhaust gasses to the rear?

    3. Maybe the Pirellis are faster tyres – they degrade quicker but perhaps they are much stickier???

  12. Hamilton has a real good chance of a winn tomorrow and I hope he pulls it off like mclaren pulled off the new package! I bet maclaren haters feel stupid now for predicting that they won’t ever get anywhre or never winn championships againg. And saying that thell never get near ferrari mmmmm looks to me ferrari are slacking I do feel sorry for massa tho can’t get a grip on his car atall… Wonder what the tires will be like with full fuel loads front runners to pit first I rekon.. Come on hamilton pull one of ur famous starts off and leave vettle in ur dirty air lol altho vettel done a stunning lap well dun to him… Mark webber all I can say is hahahaha he reli is slow in that bull of a machine lol well lewis for the winn!!

  13. somerandomguy
    26th March 2011, 10:07

    I was there it was amazing. The first time I ever see an F1 car. I was so scared in the minutes before the practice 3 because I thought they would be really loud and fast and scary. And they were loud. Theyre so loud you can feel it in your throat but it turns out that that is totally awesome. The qualifying was really exciting too the whole day was exciting just to be at the grand prix

    1. somerandomguy
      26th March 2011, 10:11

      I really had the best day today I found a really good spot on the inside of the exit of turn 6. Thats where I’ll be tomorrow hopefully. Fanvision is really good as well, I couldnt have followed anything without it

  14. Does anyone else think that Mclaren were perhaps pulling the wool over our eyes with regards to pre-season performance? Yes are seemingly the best reactionaries to their own mistakes, but splitting the Red Bulls is still quite a feat.

  15. Great performance by Vettel. He was just in another world today.
    And i am very glad to see McLaren getting on the pace! I would have hated to see them have another 2009 like season. I think tomorrow is going to be very very interesting. Looking forward to it!

  16. HRT may yet have the pace in the car to beat the 107% rule but with zero testing and only a few installation laps there is no time to work on the setup to improve performane. For all you know, they may even havd the wrong gear ratios or running the wings inhigh drag mode suitable for circuits like Monaco.
    Its a shame really because I don’t think thy can get back their lost milage.

    Brundle and Coulthard have a tone of voice that is more suited to race analysis than commentary. They can get away with it in qualifying, come sunday before one can give a verdict. They need to step up the excitement level a bit. Right now they are just too laid back.

    The true rival to another Vettle championship isn’t one of the other drivers. He is competing with reliability. The true championship is for second positon.

  17. sid_prasher (@)
    26th March 2011, 11:06

    Terribly disappointed with the Ferrari performance today…hope their pace is good in the race. Massa was completely out of sorts – this way he is going to stay as the number 2 driver.
    Mclaren – must have gathered really useful data during the testing to have turned things around so quickly…awesome lap by Hamilton.
    Sadly, I think HRT will fold up before the season is through…there is no point coming to races and stayin at best till the qualifying…

  18. Kobayashi qualifying 9th on used tyres… very impressive. The Sauber seems to be quite a good car considering how well it went for his rookie teammate. I hope their in season development will be as good as last year’s.

    Apart from the drivers and teams who have rightfully received praise, Massa was really embarassing today.

    By the way, DRS rules are awfully vague to begin with, but are they allowed to use it during the first lap as well, with an impossibly bunched up field?

    1. Having said that, I’m very surprised Kobayashi didn’t qualify on hard tyres instead, which Buemi seems to have done.

      1. lap 2 onwards i think.

    2. i think they are not allowed to use it in the first round(s)

  19. I underestimated McLaren after FP1 and 2. What a comeback! I fear for domination when they get their exhaust working…
    And boy that Vettel, .026 of my prediction!

  20. Gobsmacked at Mclaren. Amazed at Vettel’s lap. Sauber have improved a lot, well done to Perez and Di Resta for doing a good job.

    Bit gutted at Mercedes’ lack of performance though, I hope it was just getting caught out by the various things qualifying throws up rather than a lack of pace.

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