Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Albert Park, 2018

Hamilton storms to pole as Bottas crashes

2018 Australian Grand Prix qualifying

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It looked like F1 was on course for a close, three-way fight for pole position.

But a stunning final lap by Lewis Hamilton left him six-tenths of a second clear of the Ferrari drivers and the Red Bull pair.

It wasn’t an entirely successful session for world champions Mercedes, however, as Valtteri Bottas crashes out at the beginning of Q3.


The track was still improving rapidly following the morning rain as first practice began. That meant drivers settled into runs of several laps to take advantage of the evolving conditions.

Raikkonen set the pace initially before he was displaced at the top of the times by Hamilton. But the focus of the first session was which drivers would make it through into Q2.

The fight turned out to be largely between the Williams, Sauber and Toro Rosso drivers. However Esteban Ocon almost fell victim to the rapidly-improving track. He completed his final run early and Brendon Hartley came close to knocking him out – had he not made a small mistake at turn one he might have done so.

Neither Toro Rosso went through as Pierre Gasly, who was initially the quicker of the two, went off at turn three and ended up last. The pair were separated by the two Saubers, Marcus Ericsson fractionally ahead of Charles Leclerc, and Sergey Sirotkin. A late improvement by Lance Stroll earned him a place in Q2.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Brendon HartleyToro Rosso-Honda1’24.532
17Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’24.556
18Charles LeclercSauber-Ferrari1’24.636
19Sergey SirotkinWilliams-Mercedes1’24.922
20Pierre GaslyToro Rosso-Honda1’25.295


Q1 started with Hamilton becoming the first driver to break the track record at Albert Park, lowering his own benchmark from 12 months earlier. But by the end of the session that time had been beaten by another driver – Vettel, who produced the first sub-1’22 lap of the weekend, setting up an exciting battle for pole position.

Meanwhile Red Bull were exploring strategy alternatives. Both Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo opted for the super-soft tyres instead of ultra-softs, meaning they will start the race on the harder compounds.

The shoot-out for the top 10 places brought heartbreak for McLaren. Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were on course to reach Q3 before the final runs began. But at the Haas and Renault drivers improved their times, both were eliminated.

The Force India pair also failed to progress any further. Sergio Perez told his team on the radio he’d driven “a hell of a lap”, adding: “We’ve got a lot to do, eh?”

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Renault1’23.692
12Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren-Renault1’23.853
13Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’24.005
14Lance StrollWilliams-Mercedes1’24.230
15Esteban OconForce India-Mercedes1’24.786


The top 10 shoot-out was only a few minutes old when Valtteri Bottas got greedy with the exit kerb at turn one and spun his Mercedes hard into the turn two barrier. He was unhurt, but the crash left him on the fifth row of the grid at best.

Hamilton in the sole remaining Mercedes set the pace once the session restarted, but there wasn’t much in it. His first effort was a 1’22.051, slightly down on the best time from Q2, perhaps due to the drivers being warned about fluid left at turns one and two following his team mate’s crash.

Verstappen, now back on ultra-softs, went just six-hundredths of a second slower with his first effort. Incredibly, Vettel got even closer, splitting the pair. But there was still a few minutes left for drivers to have one more run.

But if the pecking order looked close before the final runs, it didn’t afterwards. Hamilton unleashed stunning pace from his Mercedes, slashing almost a second off his lap time, and lowering the track record to 1’21.164 as he moved the benchmark far beyond anything his rivals could manage.

An error by Verstappen cost him a place to Raikkonen, who also edged Vettel to the second spot on the front row. Vettel ended up a tenth of a second off his team mate after making a mistake at turn 13.

The Haas pair delivered on their potential by qualifying sixth and seventh, ahead of the Renaults, and will gain a place from Ricciardo’s penalty.

Top ten in Q3

1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’21.164
2Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’21.828
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1’21.838
4Max VerstappenRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’21.879
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’22.152
6Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’23.187
7Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’23.339
8Nico HulkenbergRenault1’23.532
9Carlos Sainz JnrRenault1’23.577
10Valtteri BottasMercedes

2018 Australian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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200 comments on “Hamilton storms to pole as Bottas crashes”

  1. I nearly got my pole time prediction right. 1:21.148 vs 1:21.164.

    1. @jerejj
      I went for a 1:28, so much for 100% chance of rain!

      1. Indeed, I was disappointed by that, but actually they said 100% rain on saturday, it happened but unfortunately only on fp3!

  2. Aryton Senna
    24th March 2018, 7:22

    Stonking lap there by Lewis

  3. Archit (@architjain07)
    24th March 2018, 7:24

    Party Mode!!! Hammer Time! I am just afraid we had a banker for what is to come this season at least in qualifying!! God mode from Hamilton today!

    1. Well Vettel didn’t like it !

      1. Vettle doesn’t like alot. I mean he’s a good driver but a bit of a sore loser.

        1. and Lewis is a great loser.

          1. Lewis doesn’t crash into people on purpose.

          2. The season hasn’t even started and this is how we Racefans set the tone :(

    2. Very worrying signs for the season ahead… At least in the race, Mercedes won’t use that mode… 6 tenths, ugh… Was hoping this season would be incredibly close after Q2…

      1. So right Hugh:6 tenths, ugh…
        In reality it is closer to 7 tenths than six tenths 0.664 was it?
        Sit back and enjoy!!
        But when you factor that Mercedes is the most robust and durable engine;that during the course of the season the others(the opposition to Merc)will without any doubt ;take penalities for failing engines….
        You can clearly see that all those Red Bull,Renault;Ferrari ;Mclaren;CLEARLY need to go back to the drawing boards already before we even start.
        Enjoy anyway,maybe,just maybe;Hamilton will feel sorry for them and switch off his party mode.or maybe Bottas will learn how to tame the party mode soon??

      2. @hugh11, for all the focus on whether or not Hamilton was using a particular engine mode, there are a number of other factors at play here.

        Firstly, as others have noted, Vettel and both Red Bull drivers were not happy with their respective fastest laps, with all of them saying that they made mistakes, whilst Hamilton’s pole lap was much cleaner than any of their laps. That suggests to me that the resultant gap between Hamilton and his rivals is being exaggerated by their mistakes rather than by the intrinsic performance of Mercedes’s car and by Hamilton putting together an especially good lap.

        Another factor that has been pointed out is that Australia is known to be particularly demanding on fuel consumption, and there had been reports back in pre-season testing that Ferrari might have been struggling with high fuel consumption as they’ve pushed for more power out of their engine (there were also reports from last season that Ferrari were already running fairly close to the limit on fuel consumption).

        Now, the Italian press are suggesting that Ferrari have had to trim the wing levels of their cars because the amount of drag which the car was producing was hurting their fuel consumption too much. Italian journalists are also reporting that the SF71-H is not producing as much rear downforce as Ferrari had expected, forcing them to trim the front downforce because the centre of pressure was too far forward and causing the car to oversteer.

        That suggestion does seem to be consistent with the speed trap data and cornering data – Ferrari have been consistently faster than Mercedes in every single speed trap around the track, being up to 5kph faster in some sectors, and a comparison of the onboard telemetry from Hamilton’s fastest lap and Kimi’s fastest lap showed that Kimi was in fact consistently gaining time relative to Hamilton down the straights – Hamilton’s main advantage was actually under braking, as he was able to brake later, and initial entry speed into the corners, relative to Kimi. If it is the case that Ferrari are having a few issues with their car and have ended up with a compromised set up, that would also contribute to their disadvantage over a single lap.

        Overall, I don’t think that it is so much of a case of Mercedes being that superior, but more of a case of Hamilton putting in a particularly good lap whilst most of his nearest rivals underperformed on their respective laps.

    3. While you’re all focused on ‘party mode’ spare a thought for the absolute fearlessness of the driver. It’s one thing to have more power but you still have to manage that power at considerable speeds.

      The Ferraris made mistakes in their qualifying which would have cost them, that’s where you’ll find the difference.

      My guess is had Hamilton been driving the Ferraris he would have gotten more out of the car, and challenged any other driver driving for Mercedes.

      1. Bottas would not have set that time and would probably have been behind a Red Bull and a Ferrari.

        This was Lewis at the peak of his abilities.

      2. @ajaxn when ham wins, it is because of his engine mode, when ham is overtaken, it is because engine mode not used during racing, when ham overtakes, he used his engine mode… it is almost like ham doesnt exists, engine driving itself? why are people so sore about someone as talented if not the most talented driver :) in the grid? is it because he is gray/silver? is it his “44” number that is insulting to you? if ham drove for ferrari and won, it would be because of red color still and not his 10KG “osmium” balls that are scraping the apexes at those speeds!

  4. I called it on Friday.

    We are one qualifying session into the season and pretty much everyone already knows that Hamilton will win the WDC. No wonder Formula 1 is a dying sport, it’s as predictable as the Bundesliga.

    1. Oh come on. You’ve said it yourself, were one qualifying session into the season and already moaning. Let’s wait and see how things develop before throwing toys out of the pram. That was a really great session which had a bit of everything. Sure Hamilton had amazing pace at the end but Ferrari and Redbull have the pace to win tomorrow so can we at least have a race before moaning ?

      1. Let’s be honest, do you really believe that anyone other than Hamilton will win this season?

        1. @kingshark To be honest I still find the qualy unpredictable, who Knew Bottas will destroy his Mercedes and Vettel will be overqualified by his elderly teammate ?

          1. @abdelilah *will be outqualified (we need an edit button).

          2. @understeer I agree. The Ferraris acting as a team could out strategise the Mercedes. If one driver pits first and comes out to hold up Hamilton, it could buy time for the other driver which benefits them at the end.

            Meanwhile you will have Bottas making his way through the field unable to do much to help his team mate. The advantage tomorrow could go to the best team.

      2. Tom, Kingshark was writing the season off before the first tests even began – it’s almost as if he’s in some sort of competition to publicly write off the season as much as possible and as early as possible, because he seems to be extremely eager to tell everybody just how much he wants to write the season off. Besides, he made similar predictions about how Hamilton was going to cruise to victory in the 2017 Australian GP – didn’t quite turn out that way, did it?

    2. Kingshark
      Your response is predictable. You have just seen a special lap, from a special driver, and yes in a dominant car. No Misty eyed awe, at a driver in harmony with an engineering marvel. I am in bed watching the quality session, and was astonished he could drive that fast, and with precision. wow.

      1. Yes. Do you honestly think Hamilton will won every race ? There’s no way that’s possible. As for the Championship, I expect it to be much like last year where different cars work better on different tracks. Vettel is almost always faster than Kimi but he hasn’t got it going yet. If that was a mega lap from Hamilton vs a poorer lap from Vettel then .6 isn’t that big of a gap as Vettel could do better and Hamilton won’t maintain perfect form all season. It’s the race that counts and you’ve got Redbull on a different strategy and two Ferraris ready to push Hamilton tomorrow. I find it a bit annoying when people moan and declare a Chamipion after one session.

        1. Tom
          Thank you. Some fans are no longer able to admire a special quali lap.

          1. I know @bobbonjai ! It was obvious that was a special lap from Hamilton. We had a close season last year and Hamilton had bigger gaps in qualifying. Let’s all wait to see how things develop as it’s close enough for Ferrari and Redbull to grap some pole positions and wind depending on the track and weather etc.

        2. Do you honestly think Hamilton will won every race ?

          No, but he will probably win 60-70% of the races, and the WDC with several months to spare. You can quote me on this.

      2. @bonbonjai
        A great driver in a dominant car gets boring rather quickly. We’ve seen it for many years with Schumacher, then with Vettel, and now with Hamilton.

        Formula 1 desperately needs to become interesting again if it wants to stop declining viewership.

        1. Kingshark
          From Schumacher, to Vettel, and now Hamilton. Let’s say that’s 15 years. Teams have periods of domination. It has always been this way. When reliability was a major issue, different winners were quranteed. Right now, and for the forseable future, only Mercedes, Ferrari , or Red Bull, are likely to win races.

        2. Cue the sprinkler , fan boost and spec chassis

          1. @ridzki

            getting rid of radio comms would have a bigger effect than all of those put together, it should be man and machine like MotoGP, have longer pitstops if they want to give driver their orders and updates

    3. Yeah, unfortunately you’re right. Two hours into the championship and the most exciting question remaining for the whole seasn is who will finish second (and even that seems pretty much decided already). F1 is not dying, but there’s no doubt it needs some serious fixing.

    4. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      24th March 2018, 15:48

      @kingshark what do you want them to do? Ferrari and Red Bull and all the other teams are doing their best to catch up. Do you want Lewis to slow down?
      What about other sports? Is tennis boring and predictable because of Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic?

      What about La Liga? Is it boring because of Real, Barca, Ronaldo, and Messi?

      Are the summer Olympics boring because of Michael Phelps?

      Excellence should be admired and enjoyed. Vettel and Ferrari are a legendary team. If they can’t compete, it’s not because they are Leganes.

      We watched Ronaldo last year obliterate Bayern Munich, Atlético, and juventus. He turned the most defensive teams in the world into lollipops. Did they come out and cry that it was unfair 12 vs 1? No, they swallowed their pride and tipped their hat off to the dark invader.

      1. @freelittlebirds: Well, you said it yourself: La Liga has Real AND Barça. Tennis has Federer, Nadal, AND Djokovic. (And the summer olympics obviously has a lot more than Phelps). However, when it comes to winning, F1 has Mercedes… and Mercedes. And Mercedes. And Mercedes. Hats off to them for doing the best job, but definitely boring and predictable.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          25th March 2018, 2:05

          @alonshow not really, because when one team dominates, the other is out of contention. Look at La Liga this year, Barcelona is in full control.

          Same with tennis, when Federer was dominant no one could challenge him, ditto for Djokovic.

          Ferrari and Red Bull have had 5 years to catch up and last year a few feel that Ferrari could have won the WCC and WDC.

          It’s not common to have a season where 2 (let alone 3 ) teams are in contention – those are the exception, not the rule. It’s great if you have 2 drivers fighting for the championship until the end.

          1. @freelittlebirds: Looks like both of us are saying the same, with the difference that you like it as it is and I don’t. But that’s just a matter of personal preference, of course.

          2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            25th March 2018, 4:35

            @alonshow My point is that competition is limited at the top at any given time. When McEnroe was at the top of his game he went 95-4. Ditto for Martina Navratilova – as she said during a period she felt unbeatable although her rivalty with Chris Evert made things very interesting. But we all knew who would end up in the finals of the Grand Slams.

            Does that mean we can’t enjoy a match between Federer and Wawrinka? No, we can definitely enjoy it even though we know that odds are that Federer will win it given the head-2-head stats. In fact, if Wawrinka wins that’s what makes the match special. Everyone still remembers the match in Australia where Marat Safin beat Federer in a 5 setter.

            What about La Liga? I watch all the games between the teams against Real and Barcelona. Should I not enjoy them because I know that Barcelona will win 20 games (it’s even worse for home games), draw a few and lose 2-3 every year? Those games are worse than F1 because in a F1 race, there are many cars. In La Liga, it’s Mercedes racing Sauber for 90 minutes. Yet we all watch them and enjoy them…

          3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            25th March 2018, 16:55

            @alonshow @kingshark let me guess, you guys loved the race today! But that’s the reason F1 has 50% fewer viewers – it’s not racing. There’s no race in the world where the 3rd slowest guy can come out and win the race and beat his teammate and the leader who were much better and made no mistakes.

            F1 isn’t about racing and that’s the issue… Why would I pay $10,000 to watch a race when they allow this sort of thing to happen? It’s a colossal waste of time and money for anyone.

          4. @freelittlebirds: Loved it? You gotta be kidding. The only thing worse than a predictable sports event is a fixed sports event, which is just what we got yesterday.

            By the way, you pay 10,000 bucks for a race ticket? Are you a relative of Bill Gates or something? XDD

      2. @freelittlebirds
        Football is significantly more unpredictable than Formula 1. In football, there are at least four or five teams that have a realistic chance of winning the Champions League. In Formula 1, there’s only one team that has a chance of winning the title in this hybrid era. That’s one of the main reasons behind Formula 1’s declining viewership. We haven’t had a proper exciting season since 2012. That is absolutely dreadful.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          25th March 2018, 4:20

          @kingshark But last year Ferrari could have walked away with the WDC and WCC and it was exciting. And the years before that, there was the fight between Nico and Lewis. Not to mention that races and poles were won by other drivers and teams and there are so many other battles.

          Maybe it’s not the result you are looking for.

          1. @freelittlebirds: According to Ecclestone, the only reason Ferrari seemed to have a chance last year was that Mercedes wanted to beat them to defeat them directly. Sounds weird, I know, but I don’t think the little man would make up something like that.

  5. What a lap by Hamilton! I think BOT is feeling the pressure.

    1. Agreed.

      However, this Q session has shown that whenever a driver is not in scalpel mode the car bites back.

  6. Not calling death on the season just yet, Albert Park clearly suits the Merc (engine) and the cool conditions did too, the Red Bull could have been within four tenths if Verstappen hadn’t made that error, which is perfectly within the margin for them to be challenging in the race, and at less power dependent circuits, and at hotter circuits. It’s all still there.

    1. @hahostolze
      The conditions were the same at Albert Park last season (cold and dry), the gap between Mercedes and Ferrari has doubled.

      1. @kingshark

        We got a blinding lap from Hamilton and Vettel was beaten by Raikkonen so I don’t think it’s representative of Mercedes having a bigger advantage

        1. @kingshark @philipgb I would say it’s as disconcerting to Mercedes to have the RB only 4 tenths back in quali as it is that Mercedes are that far ahead of Ferrari. Ferrari lost a lot this winter due to oil burning ban and even so managed to stay close enough that Hamilton needed an absolutely perfect lap to put daylight between them. All credit to Hamilton but I will agree with Philip that it’s only really distorting the real situation where Merc are only best in quali by a few tenths and who knows what will happen in the race – and like I said, this track is power dependent and conditions are cool – both ideal for Mercedes. At many other tracks the race pace may well fall the way of Ferrari and Red Bull

  7. The eventual gap to 2nd was large, but the fight up to that point was fantastic.

    1. I think we got hype-up from Q3 first run close result and forgetting that tyre got a bit wear from Bottas’s red flag. The 7 tenth advantage was a reality.

      I hope RedBull strategy bring some excitement tomorrow.

      1. Red bull strategy might spoil party for team red tomorrow. Long run pace of Mercs even on hardest tyre was ominous. In any case we are in for a exciting season opener. Mid field battle has been joined by McLaren which will make things exciting.

        1. Red Bull strategy will be interesting to see how it plays out should it be dry. Kudos to them for giving it a shot.
          For all those writing the season off after the first Q session, one thing to say …. Rain. Maybe optimistic on my part, but that will turn everything upside down.
          Merc did nearly all of their testing on harder tires. Any wonder that they have these dialed in.
          Now, how to stay awake past midnight to watch……

    2. I’m less concerned about the absolute gap to second place, @grippgoat.
      If we compare Hamilton in the Mercedes vs Raikkonen in the Ferrari then this year was the closest between them ever. And I don’t think many believe that Kimi has found his 3rd youth.
      Thus Ferrari is probably closer to Mercedes in Melbourne than they were in the past 4 outings, and RBR ever so close to Ferrari.

      Call an optimist; I’ll enjoy it for the next 24hrs.

      1. This makes sense, it could also be that this car (you know, longer wheelbase this year) suits raikkonen more, you know if he doesn’t like the car he’s really bad, however I really doubt at 39 he can improve much, so maybe this year’s ferrari isn’t so bad, we’ll see how strong merc is in the race, last year they were closer in the race than qualifying.

  8. Interesting to note that of the engine manufacturers, its the Renault customer cars that are doing the best (RBR, McLaren) with all of them clearing Q1, while Mercedes are probably the worst (FI and Williams) with only the works team making it into Q3, and Ferrari having a split performance between Haas and Sauber.

    On an amusing note, I noticed that the DHL advertisement telecast here (Star Sports India), used the old F1 logo.

    Talking of #2 drivers, wow, Bottas looked like a clear #2 today, and Kimi didn’t!

    1. Bottas already under pressure before the first race has even started. The season is long but you imagine that he’s got until the summer to impress before Mercedes start courting other talent. He really wanted and probably needed to hit the ground running. That crash has really ramped the pressure on him

      1. @phylyp
        I watch the same telecast. I don’t remember seeing any information on the tyres being used by the drivers. am i right ?

        1. Nope, they’ve removed it. Its quite annoying.

      2. @3dom

        Bottas already under pressure before the first race has even started.

        Agree. So is Daniel. Consistently slower than Max in all sectors. I think this year we will see Max outscore/outperform Daniel similar to what Vettel did to Kimi last year .

        1. @webtel Dan’s performance relative to Max and how it affects the situation with his contract really will be very intriguing as the season goes on

          1. @3dom
            Absolutely. His market value and demand will very much fluctuate with his performances on track. Me thinks he will be forced to stay with Red Bull without an option.

          2. @3dom @webtel – the external influence on Dan’s contract might be Bottas’ performance. I think 2018 will definitely be a battle of the #2s as all of them will have an eye on their contracts that expire this year.

            @webtel – re. your question about tyres – you’re right, I don’t recall being shown tyres on screen, I think it was only the commentators pointing out the tyre differences (notably Red Bull running super-softs in Q2).

        2. So is Daniel. Consistently slower than Max in all sectors.

          So is Ocon. The Force India would be less visible this year and even if he manages to turn the table later on it would be hard to brag since Perez was one of an underrated driver.

  9. The 0.3 sec behind Max curse follows Dan to 2018….dammit!

  10. Bottas’ shrink is worried.

    1. It’s Toto!

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        24th March 2018, 19:40

        I know it’s a tough day for Bottas but I think this is better than being beaten. He’s going to have to dig deep and find the confidence to do well. At the start of football season, we all thought Suarez and Ronaldo were washed out but they have answered all the critics and proven them wrong. Bottas can do the same!

        In the winter Olympics, a short skater fell and Korea still managed to win gold and they same happened in cross country skiing.

        As for Toto, I’ve never heard of anyone giving him the respect he deserves. He went from Williams to Mercedes and has turned that team into the best team. Ferrari and Red Bull are trying desperately to reclaim their positions at the top and Toto has stopped time and again.

  11. You Go Shavez
    24th March 2018, 7:32

    What would be your preffered explanation & why for that pole lap, Hamilton or the car?

    Think i would have to go with hoping it was Lewis, otherwise the season could be over already.

    However from the analysis it looks like the mercedes can now treat corners like straights.

    1. “However from the analysis it looks like the mercedes can now treat corners like straights.”

      Best Comment Ever :D

    2. Nobody seems to have passed that memo to Bottas.

    3. Its still need driver skill so I’d say it’s the same as any other F1 car/team. We see Bottas in same car crash it. To know where you can hit bumps and place the car there perfectly so it still can go straight instead of spinning required skill.

    4. That was the car, the new quali mode. Before using this mode, Hamilton showed almost the same pace as Ferraris or Red Bull.

      1. Using the same mode before he was also a lot down. So no.

        1. Also on the 2nd to last run it’s seems Mercedes had over heated the tires, the last run was with the same mode setting with Hamilton in another mode ;)

          Does anyone have Hamilton’s time ‘before’ he made his final run, and did the Ferraris improve on that time in their final run?

          1. ham was 22.05 or stg similar, everyone was close… and almost everyone dropped below 22s ham dropped his time more than others nearly 1 sec, others similarly…

            from live commentary somewhere
            “He sets a 1.22.051, Verstappen then gets within six hundredths…Raikkonen within 0.2 seconds. Vettel is flying…but he misses out to Hamilton by just 0.034 seconds.”


            from news site with video, which shows first run times before seconds shown on the screen…

          3. You Go Shavez
            24th March 2018, 18:05

            Raikonnen’s time improved, as I am sure Vettel’s did too considering Hamilton was around eight tenths of a second faster than on his first lap in Q3.

            Hamilton’s initial time in Q3 time was identical to that of his best lap in Q2.

  12. That lap from Lewis was stunning! After seeing him gain 4 tenths in the first sector alone I could only suspect an insane “magic” mode. But then during the podium interviews he said that he used the same mode as the previous session, if that’s true, then that’s an absolutely bonkers lap he pulled out. A whole 6 tenths! Looking forward to the race tomorrow after such an exciting quali..

  13. Great lap to be fair from Hamilton. Thought it would be closer really after Q2. Never mind sure the race will be a Hamilton cakewalk

  14. Dan was a long way off max time in q3 after being close all day

    F1 2018 Australian GP – Valtteri Bottas UNEXPECTED Crash (Q3)

    1. @f1725 As opposed to an expected crash?

      1. Tommy Scragend
        24th March 2018, 9:53

        *cough* Nelson Piquet jnr *cough*

        1. Good call :)

      2. Maldanado crash

        1. T9(

    2. @psynrg – “Oh, I’ve been looking forward to crashing my car in Q3 right from January” :-)

  16. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    24th March 2018, 7:41

    Well this is rare for Bottas. From what I can recall, he’s never been responsible for his or anyone else’s retirement in practice, qualifying or the race in his entire F1 career. At leased never been deemed responsible by the stewards verdicts. He’s also one of the few drivers on the grid who have been in the sport for over a year without any penalty points. He usually keeps out of trouble.

    Even drivers like Ricciardo crashed out twice in qualifying. And Hamilton crashed out in Brazil before he’d done a single lap in Q1. I think we can forgive Bottas for this one considering that he hasn’t done this before. He should be able to manage a decent recovery tomorrow.

    1. he’s never been responsible for his or anyone else’s retirement in practice, qualifying or the race in his entire F1 career
      Kimi and Max, Barcelona 2017

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        24th March 2018, 7:59

        Re read my comment….. “never been deemed responsible by the stewards verdicts.” You can disagree, but you should respect they are in charge and they have more evidence of the data and exactly what happened than you will ever see.

        He wasn’t responsible for that. As from the rules last year, Although it was stated that they would be more lenient towards first lap incidents, they did say if a driver was predominantly to blame, they would get a penalty or be punished in some way. However, Bottas got no penalty and the other 2 drivers retired. If they thought Bottas was to blame, since the other 2 retired and he got away with it, there is no chance he wouldn’t have been punished.

        Basically, Bottas braked early. He could have done differently, but there was nothing wrong with doing this. Kimi and Verstappen took the risk of both going on the outside 3 into 1 corner. Bottas couldn’t disappear or go any tighter than he did without cutting the corner. Verstappen Didn’t allow Kimi to turn left to avoid turning into Bottas. Verstappen certainly could have gone wider.

        It was a racing incident.

      2. Max’s fault there mate, squeezed Kimi and Bottas too hard on the inside

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          24th March 2018, 8:20

          Although loads will be against me for this, I also believe Verstappen was mostly to blame here. Although is I wouldn’t go any further than saying it was a racing incident.

    2. @thegianthogweed, with regards to your claim that Bottas has “never been responsible for his or anyone else’s retirement in practice, qualifying or the race in his entire F1 career”, didn’t Bottas damage his car during the final practise session of the 2017 Japanese GP and end up missing around half the session because of that?

      I know that, when he was being given time in Bruno Senna’s car back in 2012 when he was working as a test driver, he smashed the car into a barrier in the German GP during the practise sessions and took full responsibility for that after admitting that he’d lost control of the car under braking.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        24th March 2018, 12:08

        I was counting his career from when he drove all sessions. So 2013. And while he did crash in Japan, he didn’t bin it and have to get out at the track side. Although as you say, he did miss the rest of the session because of it. But causing a bit of damage and still being able to drive back to the pits isn’t quite the same. As they may have been able to have him running again, but the damage probably would affect his time so that it it wasn’t worth doing any more running. That said, I still think Bottas has made the least mistakes of this type of any driver on the grid who have been there for several years. While this is a benifit, he does have weaknesses in other areas.

        1. If it ends your session it doesn’t matter how severe.

  17. Honda improved a lot. They seem equal to Renault. Toro Rosso lost less than a second to McLaren. Impressive.
    And McLaren are basically losers. They didn’t bring all the updates they promised. Boullier claimed that McLaren has fixed all the reliability issues, and yet they had problems with exhaust during the first practice. McLaren was also convincing everyone that their chassis is one of the best, and yet they lost to Ferrari’s chassis from 2017.
    Alonso didn’t sound disappointed or angry on radio when he was told that they are only 11th. Alonso either expects “super-duper” updates in the following races, or he doesn’t care anymore.
    Hulk was better than Sainz in quali when clearly the German wasn’t able to set up the car. Raikkonen impressed.
    I don’t really expect any overtakes tomorrow. Maybe, on the first lap, but that’s it. Crazy aerodynamics + fuel economy + engine power will be reduced === no overtaking.

    1. They didn’t convince me their chassis was so good, I naturally expected it to be decent, they were closer in monaco and hungary and singapore, but still they were lacking something compared to top teams, I mean, 1 sec behind in hungary?

      I thought they could fight with red bull, but no, nowhere near, that’s not good!

  18. I was just watching Hamilton and Vettel on SKY is the post qualy interviews. The banter and the rivalry has already begun!
    SEB: So what were you doing the lap before then?
    HAM: I was putting a good banker lap in waiting to whipe that smirk off your face

    The gloves are off already ladies and gentlemen.

    1. Yeah that was fun. I guess Hamilton had a small crack in his “PR shroud” and these fighting words popped out.

      1. Let’s just hope Vettel doesn’t have the last laugh tomorrow, or we might just hear that joke again ;)

  19. So the first real pecking order this season seems out to be:
    Tier 1: Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull – Tier 2: Haas, Renault, McLaren – Tier 3: Force India, Williams (car) – Tier 4: Williams(drivers), Toro Rosso, Sauber.

    Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull is a promising battle this season although Mercedes maybe still comes out on top.
    Haas has the upper hand now, but based on history by the time Europe rounds came it’d be interesting battle with Renault and McLaren and after summer break they’d be behind those two.
    Force India looks alone again this season, except in 7th not 4th. Hard to imagine they can join tier 2 battle but it’s still very early in season so who knows.

    1. @sonicslv The battle for P4 in the constructors looks promising indeed, with Haas having the head-start they might need (being historically a bit weak in in-season development) and Force India potentially coming from behind while both being late with their aero-package (having not run it in testing) and historic performance speaking for in-season upwards trends. McLaren somewhat surprisingly seem to be in there as well pace-wise (with a potential question mark on reliability), and of course there is Renault… so four teams are in that fight.

      Further behind Ericsson beating Leclerc was a little surprise as well, but maybe I’m just still underestimating the role of experience.

      1. @crammond Indeed, this is a quite promising start of a season if you care about other than who most likely win WDC and WCC. I’d find it hard for Force India to join the pack because historically their development is also almost none, but they’ve done it before (big update that works) so it’s still possible. A good (or even promising) result tomorrow will boost McLaren morale greatly and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d be clear 4th best team by the end of the season.

        To be fair to Leclerc, with limited real life testing he’s still very unexperienced in real F1 car. Let’s wait until after summer break and see how they compared then.

    2. Massa was 0.6 to 1.2s faster than Stroll in most cases last year. Now Sirotkin is even slower than Stroll….

      Basically, Williams should be on the cusp of Q3 and be fighting for points with McLaren, Haas, and Renault in the race. In stead, they’re fighting Sauber and STR for last place because of their abysmal driver line-up. oh dear…

      1. We have no idea how Stroll improved this year (and he sure did). But we know that Paddy Lowe is very unhappy about the curruent state the car is in. So i would call it on drivers yet.

        1. wouldnt

        2. Let’s say stroll halved the gap to massa? Still 0,6 sec, that’s quite a few places gained with a tight midfield, true that massa can’t stay forever but surely he was sent into retirement too early, considering the level he was at compared to stroll.

          Williams fighting sauber is good imo, so they might pick a better lineup next time, and leclerc, like I said, I’d expect better from him if he’s a verstappen\schumacher like driver, but ericsson still has years of experience in f1, their time was even and ericsson was not as bad as people make it look, he was quite close to wherlein in speed last year, so starting at the same level as a much more experienced driver is not that bad, will see if he improves the next races.

  20. I know a lot of people will lament that the season is over & Lewis will walk it & all that, but from what I saw things are actually pretty darn close. If you haven’t realized (or admitted it to yourself) by now, all things being equal, on a good day there isn’t a lot in the way of competition for Lewis Hamilton over one lap in F1. The other guys made mistakes on their final Q3 runs & didn’t get the most from their cars. Lewis was sublime. It doesn’t mean that the gap in performance between the cars is that big though… especially not when we’re talking about race pace. Besides, while one Merc was on pole, the other was in the wall first, then in bits, and finally on the tow truck. It’s up to the other drivers to take it to Lewis & Mercedes. The top teams did great jobs over the winter & I think the cars really aren’t that far apart, so I don’t consider the Mercs as unbeatable. Guys like Seb & Max just can’t afford to leave too much on the table on a Saturday.

  21. Well now I know the answer to whether I should get a subscription to watch F1. No. Enjoy another year of domination Merc fans. I am out.

    1. Why not watch it for the fight behind the Mercs? The Ferrari / RBR battle looks tantalizing.

      1. @phylyp I’ve always struggled when there is no fight for the Championship but this year, it seems like I either have to accept Hamilton will win easily and enjoy the rest of it or not watch F1!

        I’m focusing on who can get 2nd in the Constructors and who can get 4th in the Constructors. It’s effectively as though Mercedes are LMP1, Red Bull and Ferrari are LMP2 and the rest are GTs. We might get some bad reliability for Hamilton and there’s a close title fight but if that’s the only thing that matters this year, it’s probably not going to be a great season!

        The battle for 4th between McLaren, Renault, Haas and hopefully some of the others is going to be really close. I think McLaren will improve throughout the season but LaHassi looks very quick straight out of the box.

      2. In fact @aliced, extra reason indeed @phylyp is right, with it you can really use the extra cameras to see parts of the races that are interesting, ignoring the rest.

  22. What a lap from Hamilton. You could tell it was going to be something special from the way he threw his Merc into the first corner. Didn’t leave anything on the table.
    Brilliant stuff from Perez too … Did Ocon have a problem?

    1. Yeah, that was all driver…

  23. Great performance by Haas. There may be a bit of moaning down the pitlane about their technical partnership with Ferrari, but the big 3 are massive powerhouses. They still have to put it together, they’ve done a good job over the winter, if it was as easy as build by numbers then anyone else could succeed. The Ferrari partnership can hopefully give them a spring board to start to looking at producing more of their own parts if they feel it will be a technical advantage to them, and if helps make the field closer and give smaller teams more chance to succeed amongst the big teams, then I’ll happily have more of the same.

    1. We’ll see. Grosjean has finished 6th here two years in a row. I’m sure we can yet read much into Haas starting the season strongly when you consider that they always (in their short history) have.

  24. If what Pirelli said is true and the race indeed turns out to be a 2-stopper on a regular strategy, remember that Red Bull have the option of pulling off a single stop race from supersofts to softs.

    1. @pratyushp276
      Definitely possible. Although i feel, they will go for a two sipper.
      Last year, Vettel went longer on the ultras, forcing Lewis to go longer on his Softs which eventually played into Vettel’s hands.
      Max and Massa were able to run on the Supers for more than 30 laps. So assuming, Max pits on lap 25-30, he will join the others on fresher Softs, but will eventually be forced to pit late in the race for a set of ultras like everyone else. Not the same for Daniel though, since he starts from 8th, if he can work the Supers until (say) lap 40, then he can do the last 20 odd on Ultras but then would be very tough with older ultras.
      If they do a 2 stopper, then i dont think they will ever worry about the softs–> SS–US–US//

      1. You do make a valid point @webtel . However, the tyres are supposed to be a notch softer than last year, it’ll be interesting to see how it all pans out tomorrow.

  25. Ben Rowe
    Good points there. With overtaking around albert park so difficult, he has his work cut out tomorrow. Just a thought, imaging it was vesthappen in that Mercedes? I’d pay to see that in person.

  26. I feel sorry for Bottas, trying to do his best and get delusional with a hefty crash, that smashes your confidence especially when you see that the next part of the garage was on pole, at least Rosberg did not these sort of mistakes.
    On the other hand Hamilton surely still have it, and I wonder what would have happened had Vettel got a clean lap he can do better than Rai for sure.
    Ver behind Vettel will be quiet interesting, I hope he pulls a special move on Vettel at the start like the one he did in Singapore.

    1. I think you probably mean Canada? Singapore was were they crashed into oblivion.

      1. @arobbo I mean crashing into oblivion this will show us if Vettel matured a little bit or not, is he ready or not to play the longer game as Lewis did in Malaysia.

  27. I’m not a Hamilton fan myself but that lap was impressive.

    Anyway, before that, what a tense session it was, top 3 teams seemed very close which was nice to see.
    Haas as best of the rest is surprising, hope they can keep it up throughout the whole year.
    Disappointed with Force India, Toro Rosso and Sirotkin, Sauber struggling somewhat like they have been for years.

    Nice front row start for Kimi, if he can nail the start tomorrow (although he has a tendency not to) then we could have a race on our hands.

  28. Bet you’ll watch the race tomorrow and follow the season and continue to comment through the year …

    1. F1 viewership has declined by 50% over the last 10yrs, so don’t be so sure they’ll stay no matter what.

  29. I imagine that I’ll get used to the new tv graphics as time goes on, but I wish they’d kept the bit that showed you whether a car was in track or in the pits.

    1. @3dom I think cars running on track has white font color while cars on pit has grey color on the tower?

      1. Was about to say the same thing. That’s right, and the “in pit” notification in red has been retained when a car enters, but I must say that red is a shade too deep, and it’s far from readable.

      2. thanks @sonicslv, I missed that completely 😅.

        I miss the graphics that showed which tyres had been used for the lap though. I haven’t just miss that one right?

        1. @3dom For tyres currently it only shown on the flying lap timing box. But the HUD is never final, they can always be added later on so it could added as soon as the next race. There’s some thing still missing too, like the telemetry and G-forces graph haven’t been shown yet, but that doesn’t mean they removed it permanently. The software looks still unstable for now (you can clearly see when the tower gets rebooted) so its not final version yet.

  30. 2 questions after the first qualifying of the year:
    1. Much as many of us think Kimi is a has-been, how sure can we be that a LeClerc or Ricciardo would perform much better? Maybe Ferrari know what they’re doing after all.
    2. Given Lance’s performance last year compared to Massa, exactly how good or bad is that Williams? Where would a Lewis, Alonso or Vettel put it on the grid?

    1. @sebsronnie My take:
      1. Kimi maybe has-been, but his base top performance is on the level of Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel. So his has-been performance is still above average. He still got it in Lotus before the payment drama and I think Kimi’s comfortable car setup range is quite narrow (Alonso and Hamilton seems pretty wide). We know Lotus build longer wheelbase car for him and this year Ferrari has long wheelbase compared to last year’s. So to answer you question: vs Ricciardo maybe equal or losing out a bit. vs Leclerc, he’s still quicker.

      2. In Australia they’re a bit ahead than Force India but below McLaren, Renault and Haas. But of course in season development is anyone game.

      1. Interesting this long wheelbase comment, I suggested it earlier on (compared to my comment now) that it could be that raikkonen is more suited to this year’s car, maybe cause of this reason, but it was a guess, didn’t know what suits him more, I just know he can be very good or very bad depending on the car.

        Leclerc is ofc still a gamble for now, so I see reason not replacing raikkonen with him, but ricciardo should really be better, if however this “liking the car” proves to be a consistent thing and raikkonen is matching vettel over the year, then they did well to keep raikkonen, I see ricciardo around vettel’s level.

        As for williams, I agree there must be a lot of performance left on the table by the drivers, even assuming stroll improved considerably now he’s on his 2nd year, I still see him half a sec behind massa minimum, so at least a sec behind hamilton, so perhaps hamilton could get into q3 and in this case 7th place, but he’s also very strong in qualifying, I still think even alonso could get in q3 with that williams, so maybe it’s not as bad as it looks, it’s so behind cause of the tight midfield and bad drivers.

        1. That is ofc if a top driver can actually make a difference with this car, think there’s no question hamilton can be 1 sec faster than stroll on the same car, that would make the cut for q3, then I can’t know if the car is that bad that a top driver wouldn’t extract 100% of its performance.

          1. @esploratore I don’t think Williams at peak can beat McLaren right now. Driver is important but they don’t magically bring 1s to the table like that, otherwise why pay millions and time for aerodynamics research for couple hundredth improvement when for 30M you guaranteed 1s instantly in form of Alonso?

            Alonso maybe could bring at most -0.400s compared to Stroll (not much better than Massa did) but he can do it more consistently and getting to that speed faster than Massa would. In short, with Alonso they have much bigger chance to beat Force India at every track (assuming we talking Australia spec car without added development) but they won’t magically beat McLaren or Renault.

    2. @sebsronnie, from what figures such as Mark Hughes were saying about Williams’s car when watching it on track in the pre-season tests, it seems that the car looked pretty poor in the hands of all of their drivers. It didn’t matter whether it was Kubica, Stroll or Sirotkin driving in the car, they all seemed to be struggling with instability under braking and a lack of front end grip, particularly on corner entry.

      To put it in perspective, even if you had a driver that was half a second faster than Stroll, all you would have gained, at most, in Q2 would have been two places – so it suggests that, in reality, even putting figures like Hamilton, Vettel or Alonso into the car would probably not make that much difference in reality. If anything, Stroll’s 14th place is perhaps even flattering the car slightly given that most observers believe Force India have a better car than Williams, so you would have expected Ocon to be ahead of Stroll rather than being behind him.

    3. Williams seems to be a pig to drive and setup. Speedwise its barely as fast as Force India, but much harder to drive.

  31. Here’s food for thought – If Hamilton moans at the safety car to hurry up, and he suddenly can’t keep pace with it anymore, has he just got Bernd?

    1. Ahah, this would be funny! Guys, can you tell the safety car to hurry up? It’s too slow! … Safety car laps in 1:20!

  32. Wowie, gap from 1st to 6th is a whole 2 seconds. Expect to see lots of Noah’s Ark formations this year…

  33. That 2nd question was a hard one. Let me try a pseudo-math here. Massa was 0.7 second faster than Stroll. Alonso was 0.5 second faster than Massa. So Alonso should be 1.2 seconds faster than Stroll. But Stroll today was 3 seconds faster than last year and Alonso was only 1.2 seconds better. So Alonso time would be 0.6 seconds slower than Stroll or at 1’24.830 or 18th place or one-tenth faster than Sirotkin.

      1. Haha! Great logic there! Sadly, we’ll never know.

        1. I think I’d put him 1 sec faster than stroll, give him a little margin for 2nd year improvement and I’d see a top driver get into q3, if that’s true williams is not so bad, I mean, alonso didn’t make q3 with mclaren!

  34. Overall, I like the new-look broadcast package—much better in context than seeing all the elements separately.

    I was not a big fan of Bryan Tyler’s theme—it sounds 10 years old already—but it works fine as underscore, especially the quiet bit used in the buildup to the session. I love the new placement of the mics, especially being able to hear the cars hit the rumble strips. The graphics are not vastly improved in terms of information, but I like the overall retro look. Surely though the fonts need some tweaking for readability. The “a” in F1 Regular sticks out at me every time.

    I can’t help but think that if Liberty had simply rolled out the entire new package at once during FP1 it would have saved them from a lot of griping and criticism.

    1. @markzastrow You make some good points, the Brian Tyler theme worked well with the Driver and image montage. I suddenly understood that it was composed to work in harmony and support to the onscreen images…hopefully it won’t start to grate.

      The new look on screen graphics package doesn’t feel finished yet, I like the improvements to the driver tower during qualifying clearly showing who is at risk, however the on screen readability was worse (I have a 65” screen) and needs refinement. Agree on the mic positioning.

      Overall a promising start and I applaud and welcome Liberty efforts to evolve the broadcast package.

      1. @ju88sy @markzastrow there were aspects I liked, such as seeing a driver’s purple sector turn green real-time when somebody else had beaten it, but I miss the graphics that showed which tyres had been used for the lap.

        The over the shoulder angle was ace last year (and years prior), I wonder if it’s still possible/good with the halo

  35. I can already see another crap season ahead. Damn you Nico Rosberg.

  36. It could well be that it was everything they used which cannot be used often over the 7 race weekends the engine has to last for. Maybe Merc were shocked how quick Ferrari and Red Bull were so used a special mode. Race will be telling. Brazil last year when his engine was only needed for 2 weekends and they used higher modes in the race shows what can happen but is frustrating in the sense all these engines could be so much faster if they were not restricted to 3 engines a year.

  37. WOW! Wasn’t that the most epic season of F1 you’ve ever seen! This was the one that defined the absolute pinnacle of motorsport! The best part was how in tune Hamilton was with his car! That alone* kept me at the edge of my seat ALL! SEASON!! LONG!!!

    OK! Now, let’s dial that snark back from 11.

    I guess I can intensely watch the midfield like its the real championship AGAIN! Like I’ve done for the last eight years. Oh wait I’m forgetting the year Rosburg lucked won the WDC. -looks at snark dial set at 8-.

    To be completely serious I promised myself that if Hamilton/Mercedes** walked away with the first qualifying I was gonna walk away until the first qualy of next season. So that’s exactly what I’m going to do, see y’all next year.

    (* Oh trust me THAT alone.)
    (** Because who honestly thinks Bottas is gonna challenge him this year, if ever, or Ferrari, or Red Bull. Yep, I can hear the crickets now.)

    1. Bottas nah, hopefully ferrari and red bull are closer in race trim, like last year (red bull later on the season last year).

  38. This is what I learned today:
    – Hamilton is awake and starts the season with his best game;
    – Bottas is already cracking a bit under pressure;
    – Vettel should go back to last year’s hairstyle (and driving);
    – RBR tantalizingly close to Ferrari;
    – Magnussen (Ferhaasi) gives Bottas a masterclass in how to react to a teammate who shows the early pace;
    – If McLaren will struggle to compare their pace to the RBR with the Renault’s between them;
    – impossible to say if Williams improved or Stroll improved (I miss the Massa benchmark);
    – Mallya & Mol should have sold the team after last season;
    – Ericsson has a perfect record this year in beating his teammate;
    – Leclerc is the quickest rookie of the past 3 years coming in only 8/100th behind his experienced teammate (but then again rookie Nasr beat Ericsson in Melb 2015).

    1. Wasn’t Erricson a rookie that season too? Doesn’t feel like a fair comparison to me.

      1. No, he wasn’t. Ericsson made his debut in 2014 at Caterham.

    2. LeClerc has been far behind Ericsson the whole weekend.
      Ericsson last qualifying attempt was ruined by traffic. Otherwise he would probably made it into Q2.

      Can’t really do any comparision yet…

  39. The 0,6 second means a huge advantage. It is clear Mercedes is faster in straigths (let’s see second straight) but they are at least as fast in corners as Ferrari. Hamilton and Vettel quali onboard:
    Ferrari and Red Bull are close to each other.
    Ferraris need very different strategy for race if they want to overtake Hamilton. I think the Ferrari has only 2 ways to overtake Ham. First is the start and the second is during pit stops.
    In Albert Park Australia it is hard to overtake but I excited what Bottas can do to overtake.
    Hamilton is 1 second faster than last year but Vettel is (only) 0,6 second faster than last year in quali (with softer tyres).

  40. Why can’t we like/dislike or +/- the comments Keith?

    1. I hope we never get dislikes. It will always lead to people abusing the system. Likes or +1 would be ok I’d guess so we can focus on the positives and not on the negatives. I’d much rather like to see option to edit my own posts and more streamlined comments layout.

    2. Yes you can, @patent. Just reply and write ‘(dis)like’.
      You can even give your reason(s)

      1. True, hate the dislike system, even if you’re right on something where you are unpopular you will be downvoted if the majority thinks you’re wrong.

  41. It would be nice to also include in this article the graphs showing the gap between drivers using vertical bars as in the practice sessions articles but for each qualy sessions.

  42. Division 2 looks great this year with haas joining in! Good middle grid for everybody. Haas, renault, mclaren, force india all close to each other happy to have a race and williams can also be happy counting their money at the back of the grid.

  43. Looks like it’s going to be another easy season for Mercedes. This is a bit disappointing. Hoping for a spectacular race anyway. Can’t wait for the GP to start.

  44. – Would be embarrassing if we`re 9 tenths behind Red Bull
    Zak Brown

    No Zak I think it wouldnt be. 9 tenths would have been quite alright. :)

    1. Haha.. Well spotted. Zak indeed made that comment about 9 tenths gap being embarrassing.

      Surprised that Alonso didn’t have any radio swears regarding the car’s lack of pace. He was quick to make comments such as “embarrassing” and “GP2” when Honda was there.

      1. Interestingly ‘zak’ means ‘man eats hat’ where I come from.

  45. @keithcollantine, I noticed today that the local pundits, looking for maximum drama, were treating weather forecasting as though we were stuck in the 1960’s with the teams relying on observers in church steeples to send messages via despatch riders when it was raining. Back here in the future the Bureau of Meteorology ( ) radar page for Melbourne can give fans up to the minute (or 10 ) rain coverage if they are interested.

  46. lol, they are still 2 seconds off the pace, who will they blame this year?

  47. Michael Brown (@)
    24th March 2018, 14:00

    I haven’t seen a lap that good around this track since Vettel’s 2010 pole. I think Hamilton’s 2018 pole lap is even better!

    The onboard is a joy to watch, and listen, too. After 4 years they actually adjusted the sound recording on these cars and they sound great!

    Gotta move that camera because I can’t see driver helmets or the front suspension with some cars.

  48. RANT!
    Awesome lap by Lewis ruined by the atrocious Sky commentators, the lead guy NEVER SHUTS UP, this is what you Brits have been suffering! ?
    Absolutely no comparison with the guys at NBC sports who knew when to let the racing on the track speak for itself, less is more, silence is golden, we have eyes, nice to see Will’s interviews, after which they just cut off the broadcast and went to a bunch of clowns discussing Netball, the commercial breaks just cut in and out mid sentence too.
    RIP ‘The Lads’, the true loss has been revealed, ESPN should the never been given the USA rights, if this mob are the streaming announcers I will not be paying.

    1. Ditto! First time listening to this team (thanks for NOTHING ESPN!), and can now appreciate all the comments about Krofty (no, don’t know how to spell it, would spell it wrong on purpose if I DID know!)l

      1. The whole show presentation is now an amateurish farce. Can they keep a camera on anything for more than five seconds ! ?
        We used to have excellent LIVE Pre and Post race shows, plus the podium celebration and driver interviews..wanna bet tonite they end the show the minute the checkered flag waves…..

        1. @It’s like listening to a top 40 Radio morning show for 16 year olds.
          One Hobbs chuckle inducing zinger was worth hour’s worth of lame attempts at humor.

          1. @@I will now press the Mute button and go stand in a corner.. :)

          2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            24th March 2018, 19:30

            +1 million – will we have pre and post race shows or are they totally gone?

      2. I can’t stand “Crofty”. He’s like fingernails on a chalkboard.

        1. Michael, I see “F1 On The Grid” scheduled 30 minutes before the flag drops.

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      24th March 2018, 19:28

      OMG, what was that about? I feel like I’m at a pub and annoyed by a guy sitting next to me. I already miss the comments from the NBC guys. I feel like I went from watching F1 to watching F3 or some other godforsaken series…

  49. Lordy! ONE Qualifying session into the season (no race mind you) and we are arguing the end of the season! Those who are “writing the season off” are making their own predictions come true. If there is anything true in F1 it is that anything can happen. If everyone is so hot about Hammy’s “party mode”, then that should make them HAPPY that without that, the race times MUST (by their own reasoning) be closer! Can’t have it both ways, either party mode is the only reason Hammy is quicker in qualy or it is the driver. I’m not surprised that Mercedes is ahead at this point, they’ve done a better job since the start of this engine spec. Think I’ll sit back and enjoy the season.

  50. Just like to say, the cars look amazing round the circuit with the extra speed, phenomenally fast. If Formula 1 doesn’t know how to sell this better, the problem isn’t with the teams or the drivers.

    1. @david-br previous years were more than ok track-side, I guess it’s even better now with increased speed and sound!

      1. @spoutnik Yeah, I really like the Melbourne track, though I’ve sadly never been! I think at some circuits the extra lap time isn’t that visible, but in this case the high-speed cornering seems insanely fast, maybe I’m just appreciating it better this year.

        1. The crowds are huge in Melbourne this year its really noticeable!

  51. This year could not have started worse for Bottas

    1. Yes, he also wasn’t up to speed the sessions before crashing.

  52. Filippo Peverini
    24th March 2018, 17:27

    Great lap from Lewis. Just wish quali was on race spec cars so we can see the real gaps. Anyway should be a good race. Hope Ferrari and RB can keeps the pace.

  53. Congratulations to Haas! That is some great work for a third-year team. Now, if they can competitively develop the car throughout the year, that will be impressive indeed.

    That lap by Hamilton will be seen as one of the best of all time. Fans will be watching that in the same league as Senna’s Monaco classic.

    I understand the frustration of fans who are tired of their teams being at a disadvantage to Merc, I had the same experience during RBR’s run of success. But if F1 is a celebration of all-around excellence, we’re seeing it in the Mercedes team now. This is going to be a good season throughout the field, and the top teams aren’t that far away from each other.

  54. neutral-motorsport-fan
    24th March 2018, 19:02

    When you look at onboard lap comparisons between Ferrari,Mercedes and Red Bull (on Q3 laps), you can see that the Ferrari is actually the quickest on straights. (Yes, those who say that Hamilton is first because of the party mode are wrong because even on the Q3 lap, Vettel was a bit quicker on the straights than Hamilton) Thing is that if we compare the three cars (RB,Ferrari and Mercs) on the corners, that’s where this 6 tenths difference comes from. The Mercedes is super stable and provides a lot of grip and is not too “understeery”. You could see Hamilton totally having confidence in the car and the car is actually doing it’s job well, it’s really precise and fast in the corners. Red Bull is also good on the corners, maybe a bit less precise like the Mercedes is but overall the car handles good. While in contrast to last year, you can see the Ferraris literally struggling for grip. The car looks sluggish in the corners (like testing rumors said), having some understeer and like I said earlier a bit unstable and lacking grip. The only good thing for the Ferrari now is actually their engine which can reach a bit higher top speeds than the Mercedes. Red Bulls are probably losing time because of the Renault engine. So from what I can see today between the top three teams is that speaking of engine power = 1. Ferrari 2. Mercedes 3. Red Bull and speaking of the aero = 1.Mercedes 2.Red Bull 3.Ferrari
    Speaking of other teams, Haas are impressive and I believe that they will fight for 4th place with Renault. Mclaren seems a bit behind them but we will see as the season develops and upgrades are implemented. I think it was expected that Force Indias would drop, Williams don’t seem to impressive, Sauber are probably still last and Toro Rosso didn’t seem that impressive.

  55. neutral-motorsport-fan
    24th March 2018, 19:05
    Here is a link comparing the Q3 laps of Kimi and Lewis combined with a live gap with two cars. You can see how much the Ferrari loses on the corners but gains on the straights. Red Bull cars could probably even be better than Ferrari.

  56. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    24th March 2018, 19:25

    An absolutely great start to the 2018 season, that is if we exclude the Halo disaster and the downgrade from NBC to Sky Sports for the American viewers

    Hamilton, as imperious as any driver can possibly ever be
    Verstappen knocking the 1st blow into the fight against Ricciardo
    Kimi proving he still has some bite
    Bottas stumbling – let’s see how he recovers and what he’s made of
    Sainz and Hulkenberg – they are definitely two to watch
    Grosjean and Magnussen – Magnussen prevails down under, at least in qualifying but Grosjean has had some thunderous 1st races with Haas
    Ocon and Perez – the midfield pace of the Force India should favor Checo who’ll go for the alternative strategy – let’s see how Ocon responds

  57. @Egonovi
    24th March 2018, 11:15

    “This is what I learned today:
    – Hamilton is awake and starts the season with his best game;
    – Vettel should go back to last year’s hairstyle (and driving);

    Let’s have some more fun with the hair-performance thing if you want to get personal.

    World Championships won with own head of hair: Vettel 4 Hamilton 1
    World Championships won with Toupe-transplant combo: Hamilton 3 Vettel 0

    So If I was Vettel I would be getting those bald patches filled

    1. Ahah, true!

  58. a-motorsport-fan193
    24th March 2018, 20:44

    I want to say that Mercedes’s party mode is not as scary as you think it is. Fact is, onboard footages and speed traps have shown that Ferrari is the quickest car on the straights. Yes, even quicker than Mercedes. Although speaking of aero and chassis, you can see how good the Mercedes is, doesn’t have understeer, and is so precise and stable on the corners. Looking at Hamilton’s onboard, one can see how confident Lewis is and how he trusts the car, the car does its work really well. Like it or not, Mercedes have produced an incredibly capable car. Red Bulls seem also good on corners, maybe slightly more nervous/less precise than the Mercedeses but still very stable on corners. Only thing holding back RB is the Renault engine. If we put a Mercedes engine on the Red Bull, there could be something like a 0.2s time difference. Red Bulls have a good aero, probably the second best of the pack. Now I am not saying that this is definitive for the season. Upgrades and development can change things but this is the situation for this GP, IMO. Given that Ferrari’s aero was promising last year and many teams copied some parts of the Ferrari, it’s a bit disappointing to see that Ferrari’s aero is trailing a bit behind. The Ferrari is awfully quick on straights, like I said quicker than the Mercedes. Although, their chassis doesn’t seem that good. Onboard footages of Vettel’s and Kimi’s laps in Q3 show exactly what the rumors of testing said. The car loses a lot of time in the corners, visibly has understeer and it seems like it’s struggling for grip. It seems a stubborn car and a bit unstable. Is it problems with the setups, we don’t know. But I guess the rumors about Ferrari’s car could come true. I am happy that Mercedes ain’t however 1 second in front of others. +0.6 is better than +1.0. I think Red Bulls should be second in front of the Ferraris but the Renault engines are holding them down a bit. Speaking of other teams, Haas are impressive. They will fight the Renaults for 4th. McLaren seem a bit behind them. I think it was also expected for Force India to fall down.

  59. The new timing graphics have a lot to be desired for for Qualifying. During Q1 it only showed 1st to 12th so you had no idea who was in the knock out zone.
    In the grandstand everyone around me we yelling show us the bottom positions so we can see who at risk.
    The same happened in Q2 with 13-15 not on screen.

    It really took the drama and suspense for Qualifying away for those two sessions.
    Also they don’t show the time gaps enough either, it just flashes up quickly

  60. FWIW, credit where it’s due, (I eat crow) ESPN2 has “F1 On The Grid” scheduled 30 mins before the flag drops…I’m hoping Will Buxton’s featured doing his thing on the grid, aways a highlight of the NBC show IMIO..

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