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Qualifying highlights - Australia 2014 - Following the fight for the first pole position of the season

Published by Christine

Hamilton in dryer conditions on Saturday
Credit: Daimler AG

With darkening skies above Albert Park, our brave drivers lined up to battle for the first pole position of the new and improved 2014 season. Tweaks to the tyre rules and session timings didn't have too much impact on qualifying, instead it was the intermittent rain and changeable conditions that made the first Saturday super exciting.

A handful of crashes, several world champions failing to get into the top ten, and one of the Renault powered teams really, really struggling - qualifying held a little bit of everything. Relive the session lap by lap with highlights, quotes, statistics and more.

As it happened: Australia 2014 - Qualifying

  • 05:30

    Hello fact-hunting friends, it's been a long ol' winter but Formula One is back, and so am I!

  • 05:30

    If you've been following closely, and probably even if you haven't, you'll know this season has the biggest raft of changes for a long time. And the teams are struggling with it.

  • 05:32

    Already, before the first qualifying session of the season, Esteban Gutiérrez and Valtteri Bottas have picked up five place grid drop penalties.

  • 05:33

    Both drivers completed just a handful of installation laps in final practice this morning, before stopping for gearbox issues. A gearbox change results in five place drops once they've secured a grid spot.

  • 05:35

    There's a lot of talk of rain above the Albert Park circuit. Spits and spots here, and there. Amy, in particular, talks of taking her jacket on again/off again/on again.

  • 05:36

    Arguably, we don't need the intervention of rain for this first weekend. There are plenty of other variables to make it an interesting qualifying and race!

  • 05:39
    Fastest Session Times
    Free Practice 1F Alonso1:31.840
    Free Practice 2L Hamilton1:29.625
    Free Practice 3N Rosberg1:29.375
  • 05:42

    Credit: @Mattg81

    The skies over Albert Park during FP3. Changeable conditions, I'd say.

  • 05:45

    QuotePat Symonds: "These cars are difficult to drive. They don’t have the grip we had last year, and you get a little thing like the wind moving, it’s not that little today, and it’s enough to cause them some problems."

  • 05:48

    Tyres on option today include the medium and soft, white and yellow sidewalls respectively. A qualifying tweak for 2014 sees drivers in the top ten having to start the race on the tyres they used in Q2. The idea being that Q3 shouldn't be all about saving the tyres and not running.

  • 05:49

    The FIA have also adjusted the timing of the sessions, with Q1 two minutes shorter and Q3 two minutes longer.

    So we have:

    - Q1, 18 minutes

    - Q2, 15 minutes

    - Q3, 12 minutes

  • 05:50

    TweetTweet from @Marussia_F1Team: Rain coat - check. Umbrellas - check. Electronic device - check. All set for the exciting first qualifying of the 2014 season @ausgrandprix

  • 05:56

    A brief shot of Vettel shows him leaning against the garage door, eyes closed, headphones on. It's a familiar pose, but who knows what's going through his mind today?

  • 05:56

    TweetTweet from @LeeMcKenzieF1: Looking like a stormy qual. High winds, hospitality parasols down, dark skies, rain in the air! 2014 Oz not too different to 2013 so far!

  • 05:57

    Flags around the track are flapping wildly, it's really very windy out there.

  • 05:58

    Weather icon

    Wind speed13.0mps
  • 05:59

    Last minute preparations going on in the garages, drivers getting in the zone, and engines roaring. Qualifying is about to start!

  • 06:00

    Green flagQualifying session 1 begins.

  • 06:01

    The Mercedes pair, Hamilton and Rosberg lined up side by side at the red light, waiting, waiting, waiting. It was a drag race off the line, and it looks like Hamilton won it.

  • 06:01

    All the drivers are piling out of the pit lane, wary of the weather up above, and the cars underneath them.

  • 06:02

    Out lap over, Hamilton crosses the line to start his first flying lap of the day. It's looking menacingly dark out there.

  • 06:03

    Hamilton has pulled out a pretty big gap to those behind him, as he winds his way round the final few corners.

  • 06:04

    Credit: @WilliamsRacing

    Bottas prepares for the first qualifying session of 2014, knowing he has a grid penalty to take afterwards.

  • 06:04

    The first lap time of the day, from Lewis, was a 1:31.699. He was immediately beaten by Felipe Massa, who dropped the benchmark by a tenth of a second.

  • 06:05

    The rest of the field pile in behind, but Kevin Magnussen jumps up to P1 with a 1:30.949. Ron Dennis chuckles away in the garage, happy with his new driver's efforts.

  • 06:06

    Team radioTeam radio to Alonso: "I think we can box and put the softs on."

    "Okay, but quickly!"

  • 06:07

    Vettel heads out for his first lap, and bumps it against the wall briefly. No major damage done, but not the perfect lap precision we've come to expect!

  • 06:07

    Sixth fastest time for Vettel, with teammate Daniel Ricciardo currently P1 with a 1:30.775. Ricciardo back in the garage at the moment.

  • 06:08

    Replays show Grosjean locking up, running massively wide off into the gravel. He recovers across the grass and regains the track but that car is looking undriveable.

  • 06:09

    Alonso crosses the line to start a new lap on the soft tyres, and he locks up into the first corner, tyres squealing.

  • 06:11

    Magnussen has been told to concentrate on sector three, as he is four tenths off (of Button's time, presumably).

  • 06:11

    Rain starts to come down around the track, as Alonso crosses the line for the fourth fastest time.

  • 06:11

    Lotus are really struggling with Grosjean down in 21st and Maldonado only completing three installation laps without a time as yet.

  • 06:12

    More replays show Maldonado sliding rapidly off track into the gravel, and just managing to recover it back on to the tarmac.

  • 06:13

    Looking towards the drop zone, we have Chilton, Bianchi, Gutiérrez, Ericsson, Grosjean and Maldonado.

  • 06:13

    It's now hammering it down in the pit lane. There's just under five minutes left of the session.

  • 06:13

    And still the Lotus pair continue to visit the gravel - here, there and everywhere.

  • 06:14

    Team radioTeam radio to Grosjean: "Okay, speed up please."

    "I cannot!"

  • 06:15

    TweetTweet from @Marussia_F1Team: Jules unhappy with his car on that run and guess what? This sudden rain shower will not help us improve.

  • 06:16

    All the drivers have returned to the garage now. They know they're not going to go faster than the times they've already set, and they don't want to risk damaging the car.

  • 06:16

    All bar Hamilton, Rosberg, Vergne and Kvyat set their laps on the softer compounds.

  • 06:17

    Grosjean is out of the car, describing just how bad the car is to his race engineer. Animated, you might say. Heated, even.

  • 06:18

    Esteban Gutiérrez has returned to the track with intermediate tyres on. It's just another test lap for the team though, "balance check" he's told over the radio.

  • 06:18

    Credit: @Lotus_F1Team

    Unhappy times at Lotus, as their drivers are last and out.

  • 06:18

    Chequered flagQualifying session 1 ends.

  • 06:18

    The fastest three in that session were Ricciardo, Magnussen, and Massa.

  • 06:19
    Out in Q1
    17M ChiltonMarussia
    18J BianchiMarussia
    19E GutiérrezSauber
    20M EricssonCaterham
    21R GrosjeanLotus
    22P MaldonadoLotus
  • 06:19

    Kamui Kobayashi has scraped through to the second session of qualifying, in his comeback debut with the Caterham team.

  • 06:21

    TweetTweet from @WilliamsRacing: So that's #Q1 done and we are safely through.... But #Q2 could be interesting as it's pretty wet

  • 06:23

    QuoteMax Chilton: "Really happy. I missed out on a set of tyres this morning so I was kinda on the back foot. I got it nailed on the first lap, so really happy. The wind made it very challenging... I had one mistake that probably cost me Q2 but I'm still happy with the time."

  • 06:25

    The Mercedes pair head out early again for the second session.

  • 06:25

    Green flagQualifying session 2 begins.

  • 06:26

    Bottas is the lead driver, though, as the pack head out on intermediate tyres.

  • 06:26

    All 16 drivers are out early to learn the conditions and get a banker lap in.

  • 06:28

    Bottas takes a cautious initial lap but puts the hammer down for his first flying lap of the session.

  • 06:29

    The Williams slides round the final corner and crosses the line for a 1:47.881. Teammate Massa immediately improves on that.

  • 06:30

    Nico Rosberg sets the benchmark, though, with a 1:46.708. Hamilton drops into fourth place.

  • 06:30

    Rosberg is instructed to look after the tyres for now and push on lap three, so we could see that time dropping again.

  • 06:31

    Ricciardo jumps to P1, but then it is Bottas' turn again - lap time now down to 1:45.689.

  • 06:32

    Replays show Bottas spinning a 180 at turn one, after collecting the kerbs, but the Finn continued onwards.

  • 06:32

    The early drop zone at the moment features Magnussen, Sutil, Räikkönen, Pérez, Kvyat and Kobayashi.

  • 06:33

    Kobayashi currently 12 seconds off the pace, back in the pit lane. He heads back out to try and improve.

  • 06:33

    The times are dropping again - Alonso takes P1, only to be beaten by both Mercedes drivers, Hamilton ahead of Rosberg.

  • 06:34

    Vettel fights his Red Bull round a lap but can only manage to cross the line 10th, and he's immediately pushed down to 11th. Teammate Ricciardo is fighting at the sharper end, though, currently second.

  • 06:36

    P1 pace continues to drop. Button up to P1 oh-so-briefly, with Ricciardo returning to the top with a 1:44.031. Vettel returns to the pits, currently 12th.

  • 06:36

    Four minutes left on the clock.

  • 06:37

    The drop zone currently features Massa, Vettel, Pérez, Sutil, Kobayashi and Kvyat.

  • 06:38

    Kvyat goes third fastest in his Toro Rosso.

  • 06:38

    It looks like the fastest times this session will be set on intermediate tyres, which should mean the top ten can choose whatever they like for the race tomorrow.

  • 06:39

    Alonso went a second faster than the previous times, beaten immediately by Ricciardo. The track continuing to clear up rapidly.

  • 06:40

    Yellow flagYellow flags as Kimi Räïkkönen smashes into the wall.

  • 06:40

    Chequered flagQualifying session 2 ends.

  • 06:41

    Bad timing for the other racers, but they're allowed to complete their lap if they crossed the line before the timer hit zero.

  • 06:41

    Vettel all the way down in 15th place, huge pressure on him to improve to the top ten.

  • 06:42

    It's 13th for Vettel! He can't do it and he's out in the second session, compared to Ricciardo's second place.

  • 06:42

    The fastest three in that session were Rosberg, Ricciardo and Alonso.

  • 06:43
    Out in Q2
    11J ButtonMcLaren
    12K RäikkönenFerrari
    13S VettelRed Bull
    14A SutilSauber
    15K KobayashiCaterham
    16S PérezForce India
  • 06:44

    Replays show Räikkönen just lost the back end in the slippery conditions, the car spun round and into the wall. He's out of the car okay, and the marshals are moving in to recover the Ferrari.

  • 06:45

    TweetTweet from @MercedesAMGF1: Even though they're cheering for @danielricciardo, great to hear the roar and passion of the local crowd! Awesome atmosphere

  • 06:46

    Magnussen and Kvyat both make it into the top ten, not a bad effort from the rookie racers.

  • 06:46

    Also, worth noting that Vettel is the only Red Bull driver not to make it through - ie. Ricciardo and both Toro Rossos into the top ten.

  • 06:47

    Reportedly, this is the first time Vettel hasn't made Q3 since Belgium 2012. Will he know what to do with himself in these final ten minutes?

  • 06:48

    Kimi storms through the paddock, into the hospitality and heads straight into his driver room, almost slamming the door.

  • 06:48

    Green flagQualifying session 3 begins.

  • 06:49

    Weather icon

    Wind speed15.1mps
  • 06:49

    "It's been raining consistently for the last six or seven minutes," says Ted Kravitz. Full wet tyres going on some of those top ten cars.

  • 06:50

    It looks like full wets on all bar Fernando Alonso, Kevin Magnussen and Valtteri Bottas.

  • 06:53

    Nico Rosberg sets the first time of the session, with a 1:45.550.

  • 06:53

    QuoteSebastian Vettel: "All the cars had to overcome the yellow sector. Tricky conditions, for some reason we had more problems today than we had yesterday. Hopefully, Daniel has a good Q3 and puts the car where it belongs, the speed is there. We’ve seen this year, with these cars, that anything is possible, especially in the race, I think there will be plenty of opportunity, so we’ll see what we can get."

  • 06:53

    Hamilton slots into second behind his teammate, but both Rosberg and Ricciardo are on a second flying lap.

  • 06:54

    Massa and Bottas have swapped for full wet tyres, with Alonso remaining on inters.

  • 06:54

    Team radioTeam radio to Ricciardo: "What do you think about tyres, is it ready for inters?"

    "I think it will be if we keep running."

  • 06:55

    All ten drivers have times on the board, Hamilton currently leads the way, with Massa bringing up the rear.

  • 06:55

    The two Toro Rosso boys are fifth and sixth, which is a great job from them.

  • 06:56

    Five minutes remain of the session, as we watch an onboard with Kevin Magnussen. The Dane is sitting seventh, the sole remaining McLaren in qualifying.

  • 06:57

    It's racing pit stops all round. Hülkenberg gets the call and takes his time coming into the garage. Intermediates go on the Force India.

  • 06:58

    Rosberg locks up on his flying lap, narrowly avoids the gravel and regains the track, but he's messed up that lap.

  • 06:59

    Massa hustles his Williams round the track, the car doesn't look comfortable in the wet conditions at all. Great car control for Felipe, and he crosses the line without improvement. Tenth at the moment.

  • 07:00

    Magnussen improves to third, Ron Dennis once again looking happy in the garage.

  • 07:00

    Hamilton goes fastest, as Kvyat has a bit of an off, bashing into the wall.

  • 07:00

    Chequered flagQualifying session 3 ends.

  • 07:01

    Rosberg takes provisional pole position - his session is done but others still have a lap to complete.

  • 07:01

    Replays show Kvyat losing the car and hitting the wall. Some carbon fibre was shredded, but the car kept going and there are no yellow flags.

  • 07:01

    Kvyat blames aquaplaning for the crash.

  • 07:02

    Ricciardo crosses the line for P1, the crowd go wild. Then Hamilton crosses the line for pole position and the crowd continue to roar!

  • 07:04
    Qualifying Position
    1L HamiltonMercedes
    2D RicciardoRed Bull
    3N RosbergMercedes
    4K MagnussenMcLaren
    5F AlonsoFerrari
    6JE VergneToro Rosso
    7N HülkenbergForce India
    8D KvyatToro Rosso
    9F MassaWilliams
    10V BottasWilliams
  • 07:04
    Gap Analysis
  • 07:06

    Great job by Ricciardo to secure a front row grid slot, particularly in front of the home crowd and even more so considering Vettel's form.

  • 07:07

    There's a scrum following Daniel as he heads to the weigh-in. Rosberg pats him on the arm, but looks a little disappointed himself.

  • 07:08

    Out the back, Matteo Boncini, FIA Media delegate, explains to Ricciardo what happens next - the photo out front of the top three drivers, press conference to follow. The Australian's not done this bit before!

  • 07:09
    Inter-Team Battle
    Force India
    N Hülkenberg7th
    S Pérez16th
  • 07:16

    QuotePress conference quotes - Lewis Hamilton: ”It's been an interesting weekend. Today's made it so much harder for everyone with the conditions, but I'm really happy for the job the team did. These new cars are a lot harder to drive in the wet... so a serious task, a challenge today. Both me and Nico to be up here is a great showing for the team.

    "I was on the limit, it was difficult to know what the turnover point is, do you take a risk or not. Decided not to. Daniel did a really good job on the inters, it was obviously a close call between the two. The conditions made it extremely difficult, there's so much more power.. Great fun otherwise, I hope the weather is better tomorrow mostly for the fans but also for us.”

  • 07:17

    QuotePress conference quotes - Daniel Ricciardo: ”It was exciting, definitely the weather added to the mix. The whole sessions went well. Not everyone was out with options at the beginning but Q1 looked like it was going okay for us, but then the rain fell. It's the first time we've really driven these cars on the limit in these conditions... It was nice to be always up there, the engineers was on the radio saying the pace was good. Definitely really nice first qualifying session with the team.

    "I don't know what Vettel's issues were, I saw it was about two seconds off my pace at the time. We'll have to see what went wrong with Seb and his side of the garage. Obviously for now, happy for me to be up here and at least for the team, to have a front row start, it wasn't looking like this a few weeks ago.”

  • 07:18

    QuotePress conference quotes - Nico Rosberg: ”I wasn't sure what the others were doing. We didn't get it quite right, but you just don't know what's going to happen. In hindsight, you say you could have done that better, but all in all, third is... okay, I know we have a good race car. Anything is possible.

    "Tomorrow is going to be a completely different story to today. Also with the weather... I think more likely it's going to be dry. Melbourne is the most difficult track for fuel consumption... big challenge.”

  • 07:19

    QuotePress conference quotes - Lewis Hamilton: ”Ultimately, it's the answer to the incredible job the team have done over the winter. We had a small hiccup on Friday morning, unfortunately missed the session... Just building on a good foundation, hopefully we'll continue to do so.”

  • 07:20

    Gutiérrez's five place grid drop won't affect him too much, having only qualified 19th. Bottas was tenth, so his drop will promote Button to the top ten, with Valtteri starting 15th.

  • 07:21

    TweetTweet from @JeanEricVergne: Interesting first qualif of the season. Pleased with P6, my best qualifying result so far in #F1 !

  • 07:23

    QuoteKevin Magnussen: "Really happy. Difficult conditions, never been on this track in the wet. Car was really good, the team did a fantastic job in preparing me for this as well. This winter has been so good, I'm so proud of the team for doing such a good job in the preparation. The race is tomorrow, the points are tomorrow. Good Saturday, I'm happy with that, but need to do well tomorrow."

  • 07:23

    There may not be points on a Saturday but there is a trophy for the most pole positions this year. First blood to Lewis Hamilton!

  • 07:24

    TweetTweet from @tonyfernandes: Excellent job by the team led by @Cyroul. With so little running everyone at Caterham deserves an applause. Much more to come.

  • 07:25
    Inter-Team Battle
    K Magnussen4th
    J Button11th
  • 07:31

    So... what a qualifying! Who would have expected Red Bull to be on the front row? And it to be the other driver? So much to take from today's qualifying, but, of course, it's not representative of pace just yet.

  • 07:32

    Australia's infamous for chaos, and with the changeable conditions, it made things that little bit harder. Räikkönen and Kvyat paid the biggest price, with crashes.

  • 07:33

    QuoteDaniil Kvyat: "It was a very good session for us. We managed to get into Q3 and to finish P8 is a positive thing for us. Tomorrow, race day, we'll see what the strategy holds for us. We didn't expect this two months ago when we started our testing... we just have to not think about it too much and focus on tomorrow."

  • 07:35
  • 07:36

    Thanks for spending qualifying with me today, F1 is certainly back with a bang. Hopefully tomorrow will deliver just as today has. I'll be back with more FBFB coverage tomorrow, do join me then!

All content in the series Australia 2014