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. The Ferrari looked like a handful. Never seen Alonso constantly fishtailing like that. Alonso was dealing cards in sector 3 all day, Massa couldn’t even keep it on the road coming out of the pits. The McLaren looked rock solid in S3. Of Course the RBR looked like CGI. Just perfect.

  2. Lewis’ face at the press interview after he finds out vettel didn’t use KERS for that stunning lap shows how far infront he really is in terms of driver/car combined for the season.

    WOW, what a monster…

    I’m also happy to see Perez and Kobayashi doing well this weekend, so far. Hopefully Perez will overtake just as well as he did in the GP2 series and work his way up the grid.

  3. The difference between Vettel and Webber’s times were huge. And they were consistent – they both did replicates of their qualifying lap times to within 0.1s on fresh tyres in Q3. And Webber lost it across the whole lap.

    Last year they were really closely matched – I calculated their average Q3 difference over 2010 was 5 hundredths of a second (13 hundredths if you exclude Malaysia where they were on different tyres) to Vettel’s advantage. The difference today was larger than any of their Q3 times last year, Malaysia and Bahrain excluded. Vettel is simply coming to grips with the new cars, wings and tyres much better than Webber. Massive difference.

    I really want to see onboard comparison of how they used the wing. My guess is Vettel is much more confident hammering it down earlier while in the corner, which takes balls given the loss of grip and the curbs.

  4. As Renault supporter I’m really disappointed with Heidfeld’s result. Hopefully he can regain some positions during the race, I remember him as a considerably skilled overtaker.

    On the other hand a very good result for Petrov, I must say I doubted his progress would be visible, yet he shows respectable performance. Carry on Vitaly and we will be proud of you.

    As for other teams, as probably most of the fans, I was surprised with the extent of McLaren’s progress. Some really good work in the factory and garage from Woking guys. Expected more from Mercedes, yet again they failed. A bit surprised with Ferrari (Alonso knows the feeling well).

    As for the backmarkers, they did exactly what was expected of them. Anyone who believed in “Fighting the Williamses and Renaults” story from a certain Rottweiller should feel at least funny now. Over 4 seconds to P1 in Q1 is still better than last year, but nowhere close to catch up with the established teams. Lotus must have believed that the rest of the field will gladly stop developing and wait for them to catch up. Virgin looked slightly better than during FP and for HRT going out of the pits is a success.

    1. You know i’m not sure about mercedes, did they close the gap on the likes of Ferrari?, or is it just because Ferrari have got slower?

      So many questions…

      Btw yay for Nico still showing his quali performance over schumi. Nico looks to have a busy day tommorow.

  5. The teams just jumped on the KERS band wagon without doing any analysis. KERS affects the brake balance massively and forces the design of a comromised car.
    Perhaps RBR did a lap time analysis or simulation and realised that with the downforce they are able to generate, and the way they run their engines, they can design a limited KERS setup, then redistribute the rest of the weight around the car to get a better balance.

    After all what KERS give in a few tenths, it takes away in tyre wear and balance.
    Someone is clearly thinking at RBR and looking at the bigger picture rather than chasing straight line speed.

  6. We ferrari fans should stop kidding our self the car was not stable and slow if I was a force of India fan I wed be happy but I am a scuderia loyal fan so we live as number one or we die trying so please spear me the painkiller this is the last chance for Domenciali and the head designer if they cannot rectify this mistake with in 2 to 3 races then we keep them intel the end of the season but start looking for somebody how can deliver. All the respect for Red bull and McLaren.

  7. UKfanatic (@)
    26th March 2011, 13:57

    The season has only started now and I am already against this qually rules please get rid of DRS or KERS. one thing I have to mention about DRS & KERS is that in malaysia we may see a mclaren in front.I feel that the new rules arent going to improve racing on the top of the grid vettel is going to win the champ half season. about other teams, watching practice you could see that the Ferrari didnt had overall grip they are an huge step behind. Ferrari was one of the teams that most relied on the old spec blow diffuser every race they improved their system so I dont see on the aero package enough downforce to cope with that loss anyway unless the problem wwas the cronic laack of tyre temp Ferrari has had anyway they looked handy on long stints.

  8. Vetted didn’t use the KERS or he didn’t have it Installed??

    1. He had it installed, but deactivated, which sounds to me like it was out of choice.

      Does anyone know if there was a problem with it?

  9. mad man marky
    26th March 2011, 14:18

    good qualifying, well pleased to see the maclarens up there, schumacher no suprise there, a little dissapointed with webber tho, this is probably his last chance in a winning car, really needs to sort it out….vettel reminds me of schumacher in his good days with ferrari, when out front hes great, but get him mixing it with the others he gets tangled up, he doesnt have the hamilton factor, anyway predictions…….lewis, vettel, button, alonso out with schumy in the points….any takers?

    1. Predictions? SV, MW, LH, JB, FA…NR ahead of MS who will be lucky to get any points at all and starting 11th could easily get into some contact with someone…but the big unknown…how will everybody do in dirty air once racing amongst each other in anger and dealing with DRS and tire degradation and any reliability issues? We’ll only truly know where they all stand after everyone has pitted for the last time on race day…

      And if SV runs away with it like quali has indicated he just might, look for a safety car to come out with any small hint of rain, or an accident or an off leaving a dead car or two off the track in a place of questionable danger to racers that might just as easily have had a local yellow for a few laps.

  10. mad man marky
    26th March 2011, 14:27

    be prepared to see some driver errors with all the new gizmos they have on the steering console, also, will we get to see much of martin on his grid walks, with his new demands as commentator now, he always delivers on the grid and gets some great reactions…..have no idea why eddie jordan is on the team, complete idiot…..anyway see ya all at race start, for me 03 am…..

  11. No surprise about Red Bull, other than the gap between the two drivers…Mac has surprised vs. testing…perhaps even surprised themselves …I don’t think they were sandbagging as I don’t think there is enough testing time to allow for that ‘luxury’…I think they genuinely needed to make some changes, did so, I think by simplifying the exhaust, was it not? And it worked…unlike Merc who made some last minute changes, felt like in the last test they had made some strides, but in fact look to be off the pace…

    I think Ferrari will find their way before too long…they didn’t start out last year as the dominant team and yet FA still had a WDC shot going into the last race…I think they will only get stronger, but FM did not need to be starting off the way he has…just one quali session to go by though…tons of season left obviously…

    Not an MS fan whatsoever, so I’m glad to see him behind NR again, and out of the top ten, but again, in fairness, it’s only one quali session so far…everybody has a ton of work ahead of them to catch up to SV in the RB…

  12. I think that many here are a bit over the top regarding the results of Q. Let’s have a few races before we write any team or driver off.

    1. Absolutely true…it’s one quali session at one venue…they haven’t raced in anger yet, and the next venue will treat some cars/tires differently…that said, we do have the beginnings of evidence of who is where amongst each other, and big leaps of advancement by the teams are harder to achieve without in-season testing.

      But you are right…there’s a reason they run all the races to determine a Champion…

  13. I really enjoyed quali today and not just ‘cos it was the first of the season, though it was full of surprises and plenty of excitement. Real stand out points for me are Kobayashi and Petrov doing so well. Disappointed that Lotus couldn’t break through but I guess they just need a little more time.

    Incredible stuff from Vettel and Hamilton.

    If you don’t/can’t use KERS does this mean you can get away with braking a little later as the battery doesn’t soak up all the energy?

    1. The way Hamilton kept locking up in T3, I say KERS was giving trouble in regen mode, wrecking the brake bias. I don’t think it affects ultimate braking power, which is limited by pad and tire friction, but it creates a complicated bias problem, because it adds braking to the rear axle, except when the battery is full. Doesn’t explain why he had 40% “left,” but maybe the set is either off or on, and they turned it off in the lap.

  14. wow, Massa spins out. When will people realise he is terrible and always was?

  15. What a session.First what a great feeling to have F1 back where it belongs, on track.
    There were many disappointment today as Heidfeld failed to go to beyond Q1.Schumacher was another,along with Barrichello.One of the surprises was Perez, I thought that he will go to round 3,but to me the man of the day have to be Petrov what a performance from him.Just goes to show that Renault do have a car which can fight for the podium regularly if they have a driver of Kubica class.

    Nothing I say about Vettel he is slowly becoming P1 boy,but Massa have to rethink his game. I think he is taking pressure on him. Mclaren did a great performance they really came back strongly.

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