2011 Australian GP – Qualifying Results


Sebastian Vettel stormed to pole position for the Australian GP today with a crushing 1:23.529 lap that was well beyond anyone else, including his team mate Mark Webber. 8 tenths beyond in fact. What makes Sebastian’s lap even more impressive is that he wasn’t even using the KERS boost in the qualifying session whereas the McLaren and Ferrari drivers were literally standing on the button. Hamilton did extremely well to get second, after it looked like a Red Bull front row lockout for most of the session. Button lines up directly behind his team mate, underlining McLaren’s emphatic return to form.

Ferrari were quite disappointing it must be said – 5th for Fernando and 8th for Massa were not what the team expected, given it’s pace over the winter. But the Italian team chose to make just one run in Q3 – and it remains to be seen whether conserving the tyres will give them an advantage in the race. Vitaly Petrov exceeded all expectations when he put his Renault alongside the Spaniard in 6th, and given his team mate Nick Heidfeld was 18th and eliminated in Q1, that was a splendid performance. Kamui Kobayashi and Sebastian Buemi made a strong impression as they beat quicker cars to qualify for Q3 and thus a top 10 starting slot.

Michael Schumacher not making it into Q3 was the biggest shock – the Mercedes seemed a shoe-in for a top 6 qualification. With Rosberg in 7th, it looks as though Michael’s qualifying woes of 2010 haven’t really gone away. Williams threw away a chance to get into the top 10 after Barrichello spun off into the gravel without setting a time in Q2. Force India were disappointing too, Adrian Sutil spinning the car on the final turn while trying to get into Q3 and both cars were eliminated. Toro Rosso looks genuinely quick behind the top 5 teams, although their drivers are not known for keeping the car on the road and will be hard-pressed to score points tomorrow.

The much anticipated elevation of Lotus into the midfield never really happened and nor does it look possible. But atleast they were the best of the new teams once again and came comfortably within the 107% of Vettel’s time. Virgin managed to get both cars in – d’Ambrosio making it by 4 tenths, but HRT were way off the pace and will not take part in the race. Karthikeyan was just cruising around three seconds adrift while Tonio was unlucky to miss the cut by 1.4 seconds after putting in a gritty effort.

So at the moment it looks like a Red Bull victory for sure, and one or two McLarens on the podium. But there’s a long way to go before we can make that prediction, as race pace and race strategy will dictate the result. Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher cannot be underestimated – they are capable of outwitting all their rivals tomorrow, and Jensen will be counting on his soft driving style to make it three Australian GP wins in a row. And with the race in Melbourne traditionally chaotic all through, we might even have an underdog victory – watch this space.

Here are the qualifying results :

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