Hamilton denies Ricciardo dream home pole position

2014 Australian Grand Prix qualifying

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2014The cars may not make as much noise as they used to but the Melbourne crowd more than made up for that when, for a few fleeting moments, it looked like their home driver was going to get pole position.

The chequered flag was already out in Q3 when Daniel Ricciardo, bravely risking intermediate tyres on a wet track, went fastest in his Red Bull.

But seconds later Lewis Hamilton arrived to spoil the party and give Mercedes the pole position everyone expected them to start the season with.

An action-packed qualifying session saw rain showers, a world champion in the barriers and some impressive rookie performances.

Q1

With the track dry but the skies darkening the drivers were eager to take to the track as qualifying began. Some were queued up at the pit lane exit including the two Mercedes drivers.

Nico Rosberg was advised to let Hamilton leave first – the rules state that the first driver to arrive in the queue has priority – and the team also warned him to set a lap quickly as rain was on its way.

It took a little longer to arrive than expected, giving all the drivers the chance to set a time in dry conditions. The only one who failed to take advantage was Pastor Maldonado, though from the difficulty he was having with the Lotus you’d have been forgiven for thinking the track was wet.

Romain Grosjean was also struggling in the other Lotus. Even before the rain arrived the pair looked likely to be the two slowest qualifiers.

Aside from Lotus’s struggles Q3 had a familiar look. Both Marussias failed to make it through – though Max Chilton unusually out-qualified Jules Bianchi – and Marcus Ericsson’s Caterham also failed to progress.

Team mate Kamui Kobayashi, however, bounced back from the team’s dire problems on Friday to take his car into Q2.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

17 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1’34.293
18 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1’34.794
19 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1’35.117
20 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1’35.157
21 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’36.993
22 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault

Q2

Rain was not what most drivers wanted as they contemplated their first qualifying session of the year on a parkland circuit in new cars with brutal power delivery and often unpredictable braking characteristics.

The latter definitely applied at Toro Rosso, whose drivers had struggled with their brakes in practice. Jean-Eric Vergne was particularly apprehensive ahead of Q2.

It turned out he needn’t have been. Remarkably, both Toro Rosso drivers claimed a place in Q3, including rookie Daniil Kvyat.

Both Williams drivers also progressed though Valtteri Bottas found the conditions a handful, sliding off at turn nine and then spinning at turn one – though the latter happened moments after he set fastest time.

With conditions improving rapidly towards the end of the session the timing of the final laps was crucial. While Fernando Alonso took the fastest time in the Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen caught traffic at the end of his lap and could only manage eighth.

His attempt to improve further was scuppered when his car got away from him at turn four. The Ferrari wiped its nose off against the barrier and with most of the other drivers already ahead of him and on their last laps, Raikkonen was doomed to elimination.

He wasn’t the only world champion to miss the cut. Jenson Button, three times a winner at the Melbourne track, was also knocked out – though his team initially misinformed him that he’d made it into Q3.

But the biggest surprise was Sebastian Vettel. While team mate Ricciardo frequently popped up near the top of the times the reigning world champion could only manage 13th.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’44.437
12 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’44.494
13 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’44.668
14 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1’45.655
15 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1’45.867
16 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1’47.293

Q3

Further rain fell as the extended 12-minute Q3 shoot-out began, leading most drivers to take to the track on wet weather tyres. Alonso was an exception: he started the session on intermediates but switched to wet weather tyres for his final run.

But Alonso didn’t figure in the fight for pole position. That was conducted between the Mercedes drivers as expected and – surprisingly – Ricciardo’s Red Bull. He put intermediate tyres on for his final run, indicating the Red Bull wants for nothing in the area of downforce.

Rosberg went off at turn nine shortly after beginning his first run. The time lost hear would cost him later – he completed his final lap moments after the chequered flag came out, while Ricciardo and Hamilton had just begun their final runs on an improving track.

Massa’s Williams nearly got away from him on the curved run to turn ten. But the same area caught out Daniil Kvyat who clipped the barrier in his Toro Rosso. Fortunately for his rivals, the yellow flags were not needed.

Ricciardo hesitated slightly at the final corner, feeling a strange sensation at the front of the car which he thought might be related to debris, but when he crossed the line and took the fastest time off Rosberg the crowd went crazy.

They were subdued somewhat by Hamilton’s subsequent improvement, which denied Ricciardo his pole position, but a front row start for the Red Bull driver was beyond the team’s expectations heading into the weekend.

Kevin Magnussen also stood out on his debut for McLaren, claiming fourth on the grid having been their only representative in Q3.

Top ten in Q3

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’44.231
2 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1’44.547
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’44.595
4 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1’45.745
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’45.819
6 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1’45.864
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’46.030
8 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1’47.368
9 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1’48.079
10 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1’48.147

2014 Australian Grand Prix

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141 comments on Hamilton denies Ricciardo dream home pole position

  1. Dave (@dworsley) said on 15th March 2014, 12:15

    At the track for today – exit of T2 for the F1 sessions.
    – Cars were incredibly quiet and the first impression when we heard the cars the first time was big disappointment. Aside from the Mazda 3 celebrity race, the cars seemed to be the quietest on track all day. Nice sound, but just far too quiet; don’t know if they can revise the exhausts to improve the sound.
    – Luckily, atmosphere was amazing in qualifying. The roar when Ricciardo continually topped the times was great, and we went berserk when he was on pole. Vettel not only got cheered when he didn’t make Q3, but also booed heavily as he passed and had plenty of middle fingers raised at him by the thousands at the exit of turn 2.
    Great day in the end. Good on Ricciardo and good on the crowd.

    • Dwight_js said on 15th March 2014, 16:24

      “…don’t know if they can revise the exhausts to improve the sound.”

      Loud noise is wasted energy, so nobody will be modifying their cars to make them more wasteful. Just think of it this way, the loud noises of previous years were power being dissipated into the atmosphere, this year all of that power is being redirected into the wheels.

      “…but also booed heavily as he passed…”
      Stay classy Australia.

      • Dave (@dworsley) said on 15th March 2014, 22:41

        I meant whether the could revise the exhaust regs or something related to force teams to increased the sound and ‘the show’ as they always like to talk about because everyone who has been to the GP have said the cars are too quiet and all were disappointed as a first reaction to the sound.

        I don’t see anything wrong with Australian fans cheering for the Australian hope, and booing the enemy of the last 4 years. Happens in every single sport in the world – why not in F1? Creates a better atmosphere at the track, and it is good to see fans are so emotionally invested in what is happening.

    • Oletros (@oletros) said on 15th March 2014, 16:55

      Vettel not only got cheered when he didn’t make Q3, but also booed heavily as he passed and had plenty of middle fingers raised at him by the thousands at the exit of turn 2.
      Great day in the end. Good on Ricciardo and good on the crowd.

      Classy, really classy. Best thing is booing a driver

  2. marcus hand (@wombat1m) said on 15th March 2014, 12:56

    A cracking qualifying session where “just about the right amount of rain for F1″ brought on the drama. Great atmosphere, a plus side to the not very loud, not very good sounding engines is you can hear the crowd around you. Great stuff at the end between Riciardo and Hamilton. Was in the stand at turn 3 – didn’t hear anyone actually boo Vettel but plenty of people cheered when he failed to qualify for Q3 – hey its a competitive sport so why not? As to reading into the result given the conditions hard to tell much from this session. Moving away from the front would have anyone have put Kobayashi in 15th, given his Caterham basically didn’t work at all the day before. Think it’ll be a bit random for a while this season.

  3. Adam Blocker (@blockwall2) said on 15th March 2014, 13:06

    Absolutely brilliant qualifying! So many surprises and the cars looked great sideways in the wet

  4. kpcart said on 15th March 2014, 13:29

    2 years ago redbull were .7 seconds off the pace for first few races and won the championship. this year it looked like they might be 3 seconds off the pace. they have done an amazing job in 2 weeks. hope the car comes home tomorrow. they can afford to lose several races, as they will no doubt make the most progress as the year goes on and hopefully win again – I like their drivers, vettel because he is the fastest driver in f1, and ricciardo as he has a nice charm and seems fast too, I also love the redbull car, it looks the nicest of all the cars to me.

    • 72defender (@72defender) said on 15th March 2014, 13:55

      I think maybe some wishful thinking on your part about them possibly closing the gap this year. The Mercedes engine is head and shoulders above the rest and the works team actually have a good chassis to compliment it. What Red Bull might do is lower the deficit fractionally on account of better aero but nothing more.

      • dkpioe said on 15th March 2014, 14:23

        well the Renault power already seems better. Renault cars were 30kmh down in Bahrain testing on the straights, today they had faster speeds on shorter straights, and less then 10kmh slower then merc. redbull have best drivers and best aero – and yes, that alone might make up the deficit.

  5. dkpioe said on 15th March 2014, 14:16

    I wished Ricciardo had not changed to inters, he was consistently fastest in the first 2 quali sessions and the start of q3. he needed one more lap on those inters to clinch pole. Hamilton lucked in, he wasn’t the best in qualifying.

  6. Paul (@frankjaeger) said on 15th March 2014, 15:01

    Absolutely loved the season’s first quali session. Hope Jenson gains back a few places in the race tomorrow. Well done to Kobayashi, best of the back

  7. maxthecat said on 15th March 2014, 15:07

    Same old, same old from Jenson, come on, sort it out!

    Funny that for the most part, the regulation changes have made 0 difference to the grid order.

  8. Minardi (@gitanes) said on 15th March 2014, 15:51

    Hulkenberg quietly sitting there in 7th on the grid – will capitalize if its a wet race and move his way slowly up the order.

  9. Ninjenius (@ninjenius) said on 15th March 2014, 18:05

    Absolutely no mention of Vergne’s brilliant effort in the comments section?? Guess it’s down to me then. Hat’s of to JEV, 3rd row of the grid, what a result for him and Toro Rosso. Great job by Kvyat too.

  10. Nathan (@ropeswing05) said on 15th March 2014, 19:52

    Rewatching qualy and seeing the info on the steering wheel screens (for the cars that had them, Toro Rosso being one) is quite interesting. Lots of different data displayed as they would flip through settings.

    As for the engine noise, i like the sound. i bit quiet and can be hard to hear the cars on the long shots. In car audio sounds great, hearing crowd reactions, and being able to watch in the middle of the night without practically muting your tv is nice.

  11. tmax (@tmax) said on 16th March 2014, 0:09

    After their disastrous pre season testing, Not in a million years i would have thought a Red Bull would be on Front row for the first race. Great Great Great Job by Dan !!!!! wonderful job in front of his home crowd.

    now that Ferrari was showing all the promise in the pre season but not sure what happened !!!!

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