The first pole position of the Formula 1 season goes to Hamilton who has won the Australian GP 2017 qualifying with a lap of 1m22.188s. The Brit will share the front row with Ferrari’s Vettel while Bottas in the other Mercedes starts from the second row alongside Raikkonen. Ricciardo spun out in the final session and will start his home Grand Prix from tenth place.

Australian Grand Prix 2017 Qualifying results

1. Hamilton – Mercedes
2. Vettel – Ferrari
3. Bottas – Mercedes
4. Raikkonen – Ferrari
5. Verstappen – Red Bull
6. Grosjean – Haas
7. Massa – Williams
8. Sainz – Toro Rosso
9. Kvyat – Toro Rosso
10. Ricciardo – Red Bull

The Australian Grand Prix has always been the first round of the Formula 1 season, this year kicks off with new rules, faster cars among other things. So far, Mercedes has out paced the rivals although Ferrari did manage to shoot through to the top during the final free practice session.

Lance Stroll nearly missed qualifying after crashing heavily during the final FP. The Canadian driver replaced Valtteri Bottas in the Williams seat, and the team worked tirelessly to get him ready for the qualifying action.

In the Australian GP books, Michael Schumacher has the most number of wins at four, followed by Jenson Button with three wins. Ayrton Senna, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen each have two wins. McLaren has the most wins at 12, followed by Ferrari with 10 and Williams with 6. Mercedes has won the Australian GP for the past three years in a row.

Also missing in action during qualifying was Pascal Wehrlein who withdrew due to health concerns, he was replaced by Antonio Giovinazzi.

McLaren led the way into Q1 with both Alonso and Vandoorne, each with a set of Pirelli’s ultra soft tires. Ferrari opted for super softs while the rest of the field including Kvyat, Grosjean, Sainz, Magnussen, Ocon, Ericsson and Giovinazzi all picked ultrasofts. And it was Alonso who kicked off things with a time of 1m27.45s.

Bottas then went fastest with a 1m24.514s lap to put Mercedes in the lead, Hamilton was a little bit slower but good for second. After venturing out first, Vandoorne was hit with problems and called back into the box. The team described it as a fuel flow issue that contributed to low power. In the meantime, Williams managed to send out 18-year old Stroll into Q1 after completing repairs on his car.

In his second stint, Hamilton went fastest to take first place, Bottas ,moved to second leading Vettel and Perez. It was a quiet start for Max Verstappen who slotted in eighth after his first stint, he reported a flat spot while at it.

Raikkonen then swapped into the fast ultrasofts for his second stint, Vettel was still in super softs. The swap was good enough to push Raikkonen into P2, splitting the Mercs. The chequered flag flew, Giovinazzi, Magnussen, Vandoorne, Stroll and Palmer were all eliminated. Giovinazzi drove exceptionally well, finishing just two tenths behind Ericsson, not to mention he was not aware that he would be racing this morning.

The top ten in Q1 comprised of Hamilton, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Bottas, Hulkenberg, Perez, Massa, Vettel, Ricciardo and Grosjean.

“OK Fernando, we are safely through to Q2,” McLaren told Alonso who then responded, “Now we need some rain.”

Bottas was the first to head out in Q2, still on ultrasofts, the Mercedes driver went ahead to set the first time on 1m23.215s. Hamilton slotted in second followed by Raikkonen and Vettel after the first fliers. According to the weatherman, there was a 40% chance of rain, track temperatures were 39C.

When the chequered flag flew for Q2, the elimination list comprised of Perez, Hulkenberg, Alonso, Ocon and Ericsson. Bottas led the top ten followed by Hamilton, Raikkonen, Vettel, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Massa, Grosjean, Kvyat and Sainz. Everyone will start the race tomorrow on ultrasofts.

Ultrasoft was still the tire of choice in Q3, with Bottas leading Raikkonen, Vettel, Ricciardo and Verstappen. Hamilton was the first to set a time on 1m22.496s which placed him in provisional P1. Raikkonen reported some drops of rain but was told they were showers blown by the wind from the other side of Melbourne.

Ricciardo then spun out and went straight into the barriers on turn 14, initially prompting the yellow flags before the race was eventually red flagged.

The session was back to green after Ricciardo’s car was cleared away, Grosjean was the first to head out and was among six other drivers who were yet to set a time in Q3. After the chequered flag flew, Hamilton and Bottas had both improved on their initial times, the Brit was still on top. Vettel improved to second, splitting the Mercs to take P2. Raikkonen was fourth leading Verstappen, Grosjean, Massa, Sainz, Kvyat and Ricciardo.

Photos by: Frederic Le Floc’h, Zak Mauger, Sam Bloxham, Steven Tee

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