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Qualifying analysis - Hamilton rains on Ricciardo’s parade 15 Mar 2014

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W05.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 15 March 2014 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W05.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 15 March 2014 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB10.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 15 March 2014 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB10.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 15 March 2014 Kevin Magnussen (DEN) McLaren MP4-29.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 15 March 2014 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F14 T.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 15 March 2014 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 15 March 2014 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Force India VJM07.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 15 March 2014 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW36.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 15 March 2014 Adrian Sutil (GER) Sauber C33.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 15 March 2014 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Caterham CT05.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 15 March 2014 Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia F1 Team MR03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 15 March 2014 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Lotus E22.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 15 March 2014

The rain that fell in Q1 set the tone for a wonderfully exciting first qualifying session under Formula One racing’s new 1.6-litre turbo engine formula. It also made life extremely tricky for the drivers as they acclimatised to driving their ‘torque-y’ turbo cars in anger for the first time in such conditions. In the end it was Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton who mastered the conditions best, although Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo came extremely close to giving the home fans what they wanted…

Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 44.231s, P1
Nico Rosberg, 1m 44.595s, P3

The weather rendered qualifying something of a lottery, especially in Q2 where the track was drying towards the end, and in Q3 when it was wet enough for full wets initially, and then dried so that intermediates became feasible. Hamilton opted to play it safe and duly took his 32nd career pole, equalling Nigel Mansell’s tally. It was all the more impressive given that it was the first time that he had driven the F1 W05 in such conditions, and that he reported the new style cars to be much more difficult to handle in wet weather. Rosberg said he was happy enough with third after a small mistake had cost him time.

Red Bull
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 44.548s, P2
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 44.668s, P13, will start P12

Ricciardo completely upstaged Vettel on his first outing for Red Bull. The Australian was always in the mix, fighting for a top three place in all three sessions. It seemed that he had done enough on intermediates in Q3 to snatch pole in sensational style, but in the end he had to be satisfied with an excellent second behind Hamilton. Vettel had complained that his car wouldn’t accelerate properly in FP3, and the problem with his Renault drivetrain’s software persisted in qualifying. He had to drive so hard that he kissed a wall in Q1, and as a result he was never comfortable with his RB10’s handling and was struggling throughout. The stewards later investigated his Q2 lap which was set under the yellows necessitated when Raikkonen crashed, but decided that no further action need be taken.

McLaren
Kevin Magnussen, 1m 45.745s, P4
Jenson Button, 1m 44.437s, P11, will start P10

Magnussen set his fastest Q2 time while the yellows were out for Raikkonen’s gaffe, unwittingly bumping team mate Button from Q3. The stewards decided that they needed to investigate his behaviour, but the Dane was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing, allowing him to keep his stunning fourth on the grid. Button was subsequently promoted to 10th place after Bottas's gearbox penalty was applied, however.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 45.819s, P5
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 44.494s, P12, will start P11

Alonso continued to look a little glum after managing only fifth place on the grid in his Ferrari, when on talent alone he might reasonably have expected to make use of the poor conditions to move further ahead. On reflection though, the Spaniard was pleased enough with his starting position. Raikkonen, meanwhile, continued to struggle to match his team mate’s pace and uncharacteristically spun into the wall at the end of Q2. Damage to the car was light, but perhaps heavier to his pride.

Toro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 45.864s, P6
Daniil Kvyat, 1m 47.368s, P8

Toro Rosso had a tremendous run to get both cars into the top 10. Both Vergne and Kvyat were happier with their fly-by-wire rear brakes than they had been yesterday, and they made the best use of the machinery at their disposal. Kvyat in particular did an excellent job on his F1 debut to not only be so close to his team mate, but also to finish ahead of three world champions.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 46.030s, P7
Sergio Perez, 1m 47.293s, P16

Hulkenberg was very happy with his VJM07 and the confidence its on-track behaviour inspired. Perez, however, said he met traffic in Q2, changed tyres at the worst possible moment, and then admitted that he locked the rears going into Turn 3, lost control and couldn’t recover.

Williams
Felipe Massa, 1m 48.079s, P9
Valtteri Bottas, 1m 48.147s, P10, will start P15

Williams looked very competitive in FP3 and while the road was dry in Q1, but once the rain came it exposed a shortfall in rear-end downforce that left both Massa and Bottas struggling. The Finn had already lost FP3 to a gearbox problem, and received a five-place grid penalty when the unit had to be changed.

Sauber
Adrian Sutil, 1m 45.655s, P14, will start P13
Esteban Gutierrez, 1m 35.117s, P19, will start P21

Sutil struggled with his C33 in the morning, but was marginally happier with it as he qualified 14th and moved up a place after Bottas’ penalty. Gutierrez lost all of FP3 with a gearbox problem, which not only compromised his qualifying pace, but also dropped him from 19th on the grid to 21st.

Caterham
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 45.867s, P15, will start P14
Marcus Ericsson, 1m 35.157s, P20, will start P19

Caterham had a much better day after their disappointments yesterday, and Kobayashi in particular impressed as he got within three-tenths of Bianchi’s Marussia in FP3, and then out-qualified the red and black cars to sneak into Q2. Ericsson also did a confident job, though he did not make it out of Q1.

Marussia
Max Chilton, 1m 34.293s, P17
Jules Bianchi, 1m 34.794s, P18

Chilton was happy with his lap in Q1 after some issues in FP3 had been rectified, but Bianchi had to reset some sensors as he began his best lap, and then ran into gearbox problems.

Lotus
Romain Grosjean, 1m 36.993s, P21
Pastor Maldonado, No time, P22

Lotus endured yet another very tough day, as Grosjean struggled all morning with a misfire and then went off at Turn 13 during Q1. Maldonado didn’t run at all in FP3 due to a problem with his Renault power unit, and had three off-track moments in his one run in Q1. Only Gutierrez’s gearbox penalty prevented last year’s winners from occupying the last row of the grid.

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