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. Damon said on 26th March 2011, 9:45

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

  2. 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!!

  3. somerandomguy said on 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

    • somerandomguy said on 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

  4. Brianstorm (@brianstorm) said on 26th March 2011, 10:15

    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.

  5. Mads (@mads) said on 26th March 2011, 10:20

    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!

  6. Oliver said on 26th March 2011, 10:31

    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.

  7. sid_prasher (@) said on 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…

  8. BS (@bs) said on 26th March 2011, 11:07

    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?

  9. verstappen said on 26th March 2011, 12:44

    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!

  10. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 26th March 2011, 12:46

    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.

  11. DaveW said on 26th March 2011, 13:17

    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.

  12. Pedal to the Vettel (@pedal-to-the-vettel) said on 26th March 2011, 13:29

    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.

  13. Toro Stevo (@toro-stevo) said on 26th March 2011, 13:45

    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.

  14. Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 26th March 2011, 13:49

    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.

    • Pedal to the Vettel (@pedal-to-the-vettel) said on 26th March 2011, 13:55

      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.

  15. Oliver said on 26th March 2011, 13:54

    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.

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