Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2019

Hamilton takes sixth consecutive Australian GP pole

2019 Australian Grand Prix qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for the sixth year in a row for the Australian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver took his eighth pole at the Albert Park circuit by seeing off a challenge from team mate Valtteri Bottas in the final phase of qualifying, setting a new track record-breaking lap as he did.

Sebastian Vettel will start third alongside Max Verstappen.


There was little surprise about the identity of the first two drivers who failed to make the cut for Q2. Neither Williams driver ever looked like lifting themselves up from the bottom two places.

Rookie George Russell at least managed to distinguish himself by decisively out-qualifying Robert Kubica, who had a torrid day. Having already hit the pit wall in final practice, he clouted the barrier at turn 10 on his final run and picked up a puncture.

As Kubica limped back in he was caught by Carlos Sainz Jnr, who blamed him for costing him time in the final sector, which saw the McLaren driver drop out in 18th. Meanwhile his team mate Lando Norris produced two superb laps and grabbed a spot in Q2.

The Ferrari drivers were the only ones to use the harder medium compound tyres in the first phase of qualifying, and of them only Sebastian Vettel was quick enough on them to secure his place in Q2. Charles Leclerc accompanied him after switching to soft tyres.

Pierre Gasly also wasn’t quick enough on his first run to secure a place in the next part of qualifying. However Red Bull did not send him out for another run, and as others improved their times he dropped out.

He was joined by Lance Stroll, who had been quick during practice, but blamed Romain Grosjean for holding him up in Q1. “The Grosjean incident cost us that place,” Stroll was told on the radio. “I understand he was on an out-lap and he couldn’t do a lap because they left too late to do a lap.” Grosjean was told to “push now” on his radio but replied “too late”.

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Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes1’23.017
17Pierre GaslyRed Bull-Honda1’23.020
18Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren-Renault1’23.084
19George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’24.360
20Robert KubicaWilliams-Mercedes1’26.067


Both Renault drivers came within a tenth of a second of reaching Q3 but were thwarted in the final moments of the second session. Sergio Perez’s last-gasp effort consigned Nico Hulkenberg to elimination along with Daniel Ricciardo.

The two Toro Rosso drivers dropped out as well. Alexander Albon out-qualified Daniil Kvyat on his debut, and reckoned he would have reached the final 10 if he hadn’t hit traffic at the end of the session.

They were separated by Antonio Giovinazzi, who had headed team mate Kimi Raikkonen in Q1, but fell behind at this crucial stage.

However another stunning lap by Lando Norris saw the McLaren driver claim a place in the final 10. Like Perez, he left his team mate behind in Q1.

Vettel made it into Q3 but not without some drama. He ran wide at the exit of turn 12 and bumped through the grass, but after inspecting his car Ferrari said it wasn’t damaged.

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Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Nico HulkenbergRenault1’22.562
12Daniel RicciardoRenault1’22.570
13Alexander AlbonToro Rosso-Honda1’22.636
14Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’22.714
15Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Honda1’22.774


[mpuzweeler01]First blood went to Valtteri Bottas when the first runs were complete in the shoot-out for pole position. Hamilton got a little too greedy at turn one, ran wide, and lost four-tenths of a second. That was the difference between the pair of them at the finishing line.

Vettel and Leclerc trailed them, the Ferrari pair six-tenths of a second behind initially, followed by the sole Red Bull of Verstappen.

The pole position shoot-out came down to the two Mercedes drivers, but Bottas had nothing left up his sleeve. Hamilton hit back in style, clinching pole with a record time of 1’20.486.

With his final effort, Verstrappen split the Ferraris to put his Red Bull on the second row of the grid, 13 places ahead of his new team mate. The Haas pair took sixth and seventhm leading the midfield pack.

Norris concluded an impressive debut by beating Kimi Raikkonen to eighth on the grid by a hundredth of a second. Sergio Perez completed the top 10.

Top ten in Q3

1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’20.486
2Valtteri BottasMercedes1’20.598
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1’21.190
4Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’21.320
5Charles LeclercFerrari1’21.442
6Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’21.826
7Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’22.099
8Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault1’22.304
9Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’22.314
10Sergio PerezRacing Point-Mercedes1’22.781

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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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144 comments on “Hamilton takes sixth consecutive Australian GP pole”

  1. Yawn, good for Hamilton, bad for F1… 7 tenths to the next team and 1 second separating the top 5

    1. Ferrari still sandbagging. ;p

    2. This. Sadly we might aswell not watch this season.

      1. Well, as its only being shown on Sky this year, thats not an issue for many of us

    3. And thus concludes the 2019 F1 season, ladies and gentlemen. As a formality, a few mock races will be held over the next few months before officially declaring Hamilton and Mercedes the 2019 champions. Thank you for waching.

      1. This wasn’t just about the power unit, this circuit was very much about the driver.
        As such you shouldn’t be surprise that a technical circuit continues to show case the quallities of Lewis Hamilton.

        This isn’t to say there wont be less technical circuits where stright line speed will favor the likes of Ferrari.

        Hamilton’s sixth consecutive pole on this circuit says it all.

        1. Only 1 tenth between the two mercs says otherwise

    4. Come on they had a big margin last year and look what happened..

      1. I’m sure there will be great races, it can’t be all doom and gloom, just my initial reaction.

      2. They won.

      3. @cliffery: Exactly, look at what happened. Hamilton won more than half of the races (11!) and got the championship with two (amost three) races to spare. Yawn.

    5. @skipgamer @alonshow @jureo
      Again, too early to jump to definite conclusions on the outcome of the WDC. The first race of the season hasn’t even taken place yet, so zero points have been handed out to anyone at this point.

      1. I am certain after this quali Mercedes is now favourite to win WDC and WCC, it is not over, but it is most likeley. Sportsbook sites probably rank them #1 already.

        To early yes, but we have seen this pattern year on year.

    6. @skipgamer, the thing is, it sounds as if both Ferrari and Red Bull had rather disrupted practise sessions and seem to have been set back by that.

      Ferrari have been struggling with set up issues, and it sounds as if they are having a lot of problems with front blistering and overheating the tyres. Meanwhile, Red Bull are also on the back foot because they had to change Verstappen’s chassis overnight – they’ve said that it was “a precautionary change due to an issue with the fuel cell” – and they were also having set up problems as well. https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.verstappen-changes-chassis-ahead-of-final-australian-gp-practice.2Xr1JvqNcZ5JhSPhD2mh05.html

      How much of the gap is therefore really down to performance alone, and how much is down to what sounds like operational problems at both Red Bull and Ferrari? The opinions of the fans seems to vary wildly – from predicting that Mercedes had “dropped the ball” during testing, to now going to the opposite extreme and proclaiming that the season is “already over” after just one qualifying session – when I suspect that both opinions will prove to be wide of the mark.

      1. Hmmm! I wonder if, as everyone predicted after testing, Ferrari had come out with half a second over everyone else, people will be saying the season is over after one qualifying session. Why knock a team for doing a fantastic job where Ferrari, Red Bull and others had an equal opportunity.

    7. Exactly. Can we have GTR, ITC, Group C or B back please? I’d like to watch some motorsport. If the expensive taxi parade wants to continue, let’em.

  2. LAUGHING OUT LOUD, feel bad for all the so called experts predicting Mercedes dropped the ball this year, correcting tires and fuel loads and talking sh…, only to find out ALL OF THEM WERE WRONG!! Just that…….

    1. Don’t you know yet?! HAM is making THE DIFFERENCE! And in the 2nd car is just a random name attached, HAM is racing the 2nd car too. Plus, VET is slow… plus every other driver from the grid.

      1. Hamilton making the difference? He beat his team mate by a tenth, that’s hardly him making up a huge car deficit. The Mercedes was the far superior car in qualifying today, that’s a fact.

        1. Eathan, that’s supposed to be sarcasm mate.

        2. Indeed. But well, HAM fans must be disappointed given their driver best his team mate by a tenth only. I mean, how much sandbagging can one person and one team do? “Ferrari are half a second clear”??! I mean come on. It’s like that kid in school who said he’d be happy to get a C only to smash it and top the class. Sure, if you’re good, you’re good – just say it. Don’t resort to such tricks.

          1. When Bottas starts beating Hamilton regularly then the conversation can be had. As of now he has not been on his level. The gap varies . This is the first race. Where Hamilton does make the difference is over season. He seems to be able to extract more from the car week to week. I guess you guys forgot about last season when Lewis was winning while Bottas was finishing 4th or worse . How much more comprehensively does he have to beat him to prove his worth?

          2. No one liked that kid … Maybe that explains why lots of people don’t like Merc/Ham…

  3. Hold your horses guys, don’t panic, same gap last year. Ferrari are still the Favorites! The car looks planted like its on rails they say.

    1. Don’t think so, when VET tried overdoing it, he ate grass

    2. Sure, the Ferrari is quick and it does look planted. But that Mercedes is really quick, when they manage to keep it on track and the drivers manage to hit form.

      Not sure Ferrari is a clear favourite at all. It will depend on whether they can make things work and not have Vettel fusing and throwing it away when it starts to get serious in the championship

    3. @lums

      Exactly! There was a 0.7 gap from Lewis to the next quickest car in 2018 as well. The very next race Vettel was quicker than the Mercedes cars, and he maintained that advantage up until Spain.

      Although.. in hindsight.. the 0.5s deficit to Ferrari statements do seem ridiculous now. I’m sure there was never any panic at Mercedes.

      1. F1oSaurus (@)
        16th March 2019, 16:07

        Ferrari had the pace over Mercedes over almost the whole season. In Monaco they weren’t faster than Red Bull perhaps, but still faster than Mercedes. CANA they were fastest, FRA too (Q3 error and crash with BOT spoiled it) , GBR too, GER too (crash with wall spoiled it), HUN too (speck of rain in Q3 spoiled it), SPA too (speck of rain spoiled Q3, but Kemmel gave it back), ITA too (crash with Hamilton spoiled it), SIN too (poor Q3 spoiled it).

        Perhaps from RUS onwards Ferrari didn’t have the fastest car outright, but it was still quite close. Apart from USA, but that was more tyre related. Or perhaps Vettel just gave up after it was clear he threw away his shot at the title again, because also Raikkonen outperformed Vettel over the end of the season.

        Besides, it wasn’t just Mercedes who thought Ferrari had the faster car during testing.

        This is another track.

        1. @f1osaurus
          It takes an incredible amount of delusion and dishonesty to seriously claim that Ferrari had the best car in France and Singapore last year. Stop drinking the Hamilton cool-aid.

          1. F1oSaurus (@)
            17th March 2019, 14:22

            @kingshark So you agree that in all those other cases Ferrari did have the fastest car. At least that is some realism then. Great.

            But then for the other two, I guess you are only looking at Q3 results.

            Ferrari DID have the long pace advantage on Mercedes in France. Point is, that if Vettel had kept his head cool (OK hard to imagine that happening, but still, try), he at the very least would have picked up the P2 where he ended up in Q3.

            Instead he ruined his chances of even getting P2 let alone using his race pace advantage to potentially go for the win.

            Ferrari was clearly fastest all weekend in Singapore. Come on! Both on long run and single lap pace. Everybody expected them to romp away with an easy 1-2. They were 0.5 seconds ahead in FP3! Which is why the reports claimed that Hamilton and Verstappen must have put in an epic lap to manage to beat Ferrari.

          2. @f1osaurus

            Ferrari DID have the long pace advantage on Mercedes in France. Point is, that if Vettel had kept his head cool (OK hard to imagine that happening, but still, try), he at the very least would have picked up the P2 where he ended up in Q3.

            Please give me a shred of evidence that Vettel had better race pace than Hamilton in France. I see absolutely none. Mercedes was quickest all weekend on the thinner tyres.

            Ferrari was clearly fastest all weekend in Singapore. Come on! Both on long run and single lap pace. Everybody expected them to romp away with an easy 1-2. They were 0.5 seconds ahead in FP3!

            Just because Ferrari was expected to be fastest in Singapore doesn’t mean they were. Mercedes expected to be fastest at China 2018 and yet Hamilton duly finished 4th.

            FP3 is irrelevant. All that matters is Q3, the conditions were very different. Vettel was 6 tenths slower than Hamilton, and Raikkonen was 6 tenths slower than Bottas. It’s fairly obvious that Mercedes had the best car.

            Ferrari put an update on the car at Singapore which failed, and also explains why they were so slow the following weekends in Japan and Russia.

          3. @f1osaurus
            Mercedes was also faster than Ferrari in GBR. Hamilton had by far the best race pace, even Bottas was quicker than Vettel. Ferrari did not have tyre wear on thinner tyres. If Hamilton doesn’t fluff the start, he wins that race easily.

          4. F1oSaurus (@)
            18th March 2019, 17:39

            @kingshark Ferrari wasn’t just expected to be faster in Singapore. They were by about half a second in FP3. Yet in Q3 they messed up. As did Bottas and Ricciardo for that matter. Or indeed Hamilton and Verstappen are racing gods. Whatever floats your boat.

            But sure take your two races. They at the very least were on par and Ferrari still had the fastest car in majority of races.

            The only reason they threw it away just like in 2017 was their blundering driver.

          5. @f1osaurus
            You are missing a rather obvious fact: FP3 and Q3 in Singapore take place in different conditions with different temperatures, therefore it is not necessarily representative.

            Ferrari was clearly not fastest in Q3 in Singapore. There is absolutely nothing to suggest they were.

            I would also debate Canada as well. How sure are you that Ferrari had the best car, when Bottas was only 0.093s slower than Vettel and Hamilton had an offweekend?

            Overall Hamilton was the better driver in 2017 and 2018, but I’m not having this myth about how Ferrari was the better car in either seasons.

    4. Yes because F1 is about how stable the car looks from the outside. Not how fast it is.

    5. Last year the gap was because Ferrari hadn’t brought their final floor design which they did the race after. Unless they bring any major updates for the next race I can’t see the same happening.

    6. Exactly @lums, let’s not worry yet. Same happened last year and it was one of the closest seasons until Vettel threw it away.

      But much more importantly, how exciting to see the midfield this dense and this close to the top. Even the Williams in the hands of Russel was close enough to give them some hope.
      This is going to be a super exciting season.

    7. There is a massive difference to last year, team Red doesnt have their illegal PU this year.

    8. Is this sarcasm? Are people really using last years Mercedes demolition of Ferrari as evidence that Ferrari have an advantage?

  4. i do have to say i am starting to feel like it might be satisfying to just once punch Toto on one of his ‘struggling’ comments. in a totally PC 21st century kind of way.

    1. …in a totally PC 21st century kind of way.

      Build a table-top in the shape of Toto’s face?

      1. Political Correctness is a tenet of Cultural Marxism and is an absolute disgusting ideology.

  5. It’s only the first race so it’s important not to jump to wild conclusions.

    Anyways, congratulations to Hamilton on winning his 6th World Championship and Mercedes for their 6th Constructor’s Championship.

    See you guys in 2020

    1. Hahahaha awarded comment of the year!

    2. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

    3. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      16th March 2019, 7:31

      This is just the first race. It looked tight between Ferrari and Mercedes last year. And if you look at the difference between pole and the next teams car, it was pretty much the same last year at this track. 0.664 seconds. The race after this, Ferrari looked stronger for quite a few races. That could well be exactly the same.

      1. Last year the gap was because Ferrari hadn’t brought their final floor design which they did the race after. Unless they bring any major updates for the next race I can’t see the same happening.

        1. Vettel’s interview on the grid is interrupted by another broadcast playing over the top of it, but he says “I think we have a good car [for the race]” and suggests the gap to Mercedes shouldn’t be read into too much because “this track is very specific”

    4. You know there is at least 80% chance Ham does not win this race :)
      To become wdc you need to win sometime…

      1. Why 80% chance?

    5. Wow that was so smart.

  6. there is a mistake in the list of drivers that got dropped in Q2 @keithcollantine, instead of Kvyat in 15th you have Norris in there!

  7. Yes Mercedes looked fast today but I will be really surprised if the race finishes the same. The MERC whilst fast also looked really on the edge and I felt like I had to watch the lap from behind a pillow over race distance I’m not convinced that is good on tyre wear consistany so on and so forth

    1. Smu3l3y, it does indeed look like they’ve gone for a very stiffly sprung set up, which might offer good one lap pace but might be a bit trickier to cope with over a longer stint.

      Mind you, I wonder how much of the gap is down to the reports that Ferrari seem to be having a lot of set up problems this weekend. There were reports that they were overheating their tyres quite badly in the practise sessions, and photographs that seemed to suggest they were struggling with blistering on their front left tyres in particular – it sounds like a fairly significant problem they’re having to work around.

    2. Yeah but if Hamilton gets a good start he isn’t going to be pushing like mad in the race.

      1. But that’s always a ‘if’ with Hamilton.

        1. That’s always an “if” with all the drivers. Hamilton isn’t any worse at starts than any other driver. The thing is he is on pole the majority of the time so when he does have an iffy start it’s much more noticeable and memorable.

  8. Mercedes up seven-tenths on Ferrari and Red Bull. I hope this is not indicative of the season, as otherwise it’s over.

  9. I wonder why Haas is always so good at the start of the season. Hopefully they can actually cash in with results this year.

    1. They get a really strong package from Ferrari @grippgoat. They tail off later because others can do more in the way of car development (because they do it themselves)

    2. Because they start the season with large chunks of last year’s Ferrari, and are able to spend the winter focusing their constrained resources therefore on developing other aspects of the car. They also have the very strong Ferrari engine. What is more interesting for them is whether they can now layer on stronger in-season development

    3. @grippgoat

      I wonder why Haas is always so good at the start of the season

      Yeah.. I think the Ferrari was a pretty good car last year, so Haas should be fine at the start of the season. When it comes to development though.. I don’t think they can outsource that to the Scuderia.

  10. Merc still 1 sec ahead

    said someone on the live stream 5 years ag

    still true

    1. Well in 2014 they were probably 2.5 seconds a lap faster. So now it’s down to 1. By the time we get to 2026 they’ll all have caught up.

  11. F1bookieforbums
    16th March 2019, 7:19

    Some say that since Merc secured a front row lockout it logically entails that they will win both titles with Lewis. I’d like to see how much money they’d bet on that.

  12. Apparently, Merc is harder to drive but the pace and grip is there. So if Ham and Bot can boss the car…

    1. How on earth would anybody know this! Nobody has driven the two!

    2. @icarby I suppose there’s a distinction that could be make between a car being “harder to drive” or simply “on a knife edge” as mentioned in the coverage. I feel it’s more the latter.

      Mercedes do appear to have a livelier package, but as was suggested by Brundle, you sometimes need to car to be a little on edge to extract the most potential.

      You could see in the onboards that, even though the Merc drivers were having to correct the steering more often than the Ferraris, the ease with which they were able to apply these corrections demonstrate a pointy responsiveness that I would say is welcomed by the drivers, particularly Lewis.

      1. That would concur almost with the new aerodynamicist that’s writing for the BBC.
        Will be interesting to see how it develops.

        1. I think this “senior aerodynamicist” is either a hoax or a fake… and will contribute very little in real terms…

      2. @ninjenius i doubt Merc is harder to drive. It has always been harder to set up. Ferrari to me looked more on the edge than Merc to me, as seen by Vettel, when merc drivers did mistakes, they could recover easily without going over the edge…

        if Merc is harder to drive, i would choose it as shown by history! When merc sort out their balance, they are harder to catch up… but when they screw up, they are not far off, unlike ferrari… when they screw up set up, they are way off the pace…

  13. Watch a closer season as mercedes go into cruise mode till the latter half, for the sake of the show.

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      16th March 2019, 7:40

      Or because they need to finish the race? They can’t go flat out all the way.

      They might even have focused on Q3 setup which might make the car slower in race setting.

  14. Well that is the first time I have enjoyed Q1 in a long time .. the finish to the first part of qualifying reminded me of the ‘old’ days – quite exciting.

    Keith – it must be Daniil Kvyat starting from 15th, not Lando

  15. The Haas are as close to Ferrari as Ferrari are to mercedes. Episode one of the Netflix show for next year just writes itself whatever happens tomorrow.

  16. Well done Kimi! All eyes on midfield battle since WDC and WCC were decided today

    1. @huhhii

      I know it’s a stretch.. but how much fun would it be to see Kimi vs Lando in a battle for best of the rest this season? The 39 year old veteran vs the 19 year old promising rookie.

      1. Now this I’d love to see.

      2. @todfod That’s a scenario I’d love to see really! Can’t wait to see Kimi having a freedom to race without team orders or wingman strategies! And it’s also gonna be great to see him race wheel-to-wheel with various different drivers, not just Mercs and RBs like in the past few years.

    2. Agreed – midfield gives us a lot to look forwards this season.
      Some interesting battles ahead :)

  17. Quali pace is one thing. Race pace is another. Mercedes surely looking pretty strong.

  18. This was an annihilation of the field. Simple.

    But last season started the same way as well, and even with the same margin; yet Ferrari mounted a viable and sustained championship challenge. They even won in Melbourne despite Vettel starting in 3rd.

    More so, i will be surprised if Mercedes can maintain that kind of margin over a race distance without pureeing its drivers insides and turning the tires into pudding. It looks like it is driving on rocks! The season is certainly not over.

    Interestingly, ​all 3 rookies – Norris, Albion and Russell finished ahead of their more experienced teammates.

    And Honda! It seems to be working well in that Red Bull. They will DEFINITELY win 5 races or more this season. I peg them as the dark horse – especially regarding tire wear.

    1. Panagiotis Papatheodorou (@panagiotism-papatheodorou)
      16th March 2019, 7:33

      I wouldn’t call Kubica experienced to be honest. He is more of a rookie himself.

    2. Steveetienne
      16th March 2019, 7:36

      Red Bull won’t win one race this season

      1. Max can get on the podium tomorrow if he doesn’t crash into anyone. 12-1 with each way paying to 3rd place is a great cheeky bet….

  19. After a pretty big rules change, RedBull going Honda and everything in between, we are exactly the same way as 12 months ago :))

  20. Panagiotis Papatheodorou (@panagiotism-papatheodorou)
    16th March 2019, 7:30

    Norris was a beast today. First time since 2014 that McLaren is in Q3 in the first race.

    1. Amazing, easily the stand-out performance so far. Looks like Alonso was holding the car back :0P

    2. Yes, for me it was the standout of this qualifying, clean , quick and solid performance when it counted. Cope with the pressure like a veteran. Albon had a good qualy too, as Russel.

      1. Ah, and now we are just confirming that Stroll is the king of pay drivers.

        1. Think Stroll deserves at LEAST half a season in a half decent car like the RP before making such claims.
          I think Stroll gets a hard time that he doesn’t fully deserve. He’s been given an opportunity due to his father’s influence/money… you show me one racing driver that wouldn’t take that opportunity. Lets be clear though…an opportunity is all it is. If he doesn’t take the opportunity I would bet his Dad is smart enough to realise he can’t make excuses for his son forever.
          He now has a car where he needs to prove himself. If he hasn’t done that by seasons end then Ill agree with you. Until then I’m giving the guy a chance. P.s: 90% of drivers in F1 are “pay drivers” to some extent and this has always been the case.

  21. Mercedes – the sky team mentioned that Toto seemed really surprised about the gap, so I will not push that line too hard. But yeah, Mercedes crying out how others are faster and they are struggling is really getting tired.
    That Ferrari does look like it drives a lot better, so it is quite possible that they will prove to be the more stable platform. i sure hope so.

    What were Red Bull thinking with Gasly? Surely his car had the pace to be in the top 10 too, right? Very solid job from Verstappen, seems that at least on the speed Red Bull were right about the Honda engine.

    Norris, wow, great way to show he is a good addition to the grid. Let’s hope Sainz will be closer too and we can see McLaren really being in the mix.

    Daniel has to be disappointed, and Renault seems to have dropped back from the likes of Alfa Romeo, McLaren and Haas improving. Haas overall is making another great start, I hope they can claim that result that ran away from them last year. And that Grosjean doesn’t get lost in action for the first half of the season.

    Was Kubica so rattled by hitting the pitwall earlier today? Is his limited movement a bit of an issue afterall? And the sad story of Williams, sigh. As Dieter Rencken mentioned, they really need a leader to pull them up, or risk dropping out.

    1. Took the words right out of my keyboard @bascb, well said.

    2. Yeah, RedBull screwed Gasly big time. But in the bright side, they seem to be at Ferrari’s level from the first race, which is really good for their new partnership with Honda.

    3. @bascb, with regards to the comment about “Mercedes crying out how others are faster”, bear in mind that Red Bull had been fairly confidently predicting that they were ahead of Mercedes.

      Helmut Marko explicitly told the press “We are ahead of Mercedes” during the pre-season tests, confidently asserting before the second test that “At the moment we are number two just behind Ferrari, who look very good. Maybe two or three tenths. But we are faster than Mercedes and that’s not just because of our good car, but also because of the engine.” https://www.grandprix247.com/2019/02/25/red-bull-honda-engine-much-better-than-what-we-had-with-renault/

      Marko then repeated those assertions again after the second pre-season test, where he asserted that “things are going better for us than Mercedes” and that “It’s hard to say for certain, but we think that we are between Ferrari and Mercedes”, before stating “Ferrari are the favourites”. https://www.motorsport-magazin.com/formel1/news-253564-formel-1-saison2019-australien-melbourne-red-bull-zittert-wegen-crashs-um-upgrade/

      Similarly, I believe Jos Verstappen also told the Dutch press that he believed that Red Bull were in second place and had overtaken Mercedes, with Ferrari out in front.

      That is why Marko predicted before the season that “We will win at least five races” – because he seems to have been genuinely convinced that Mercedes had slipped to 3rd place behind them.

      Speaking of Red Bull and Honda, is it necessarily an improvement for Red Bull, or more of a sideways move?

      Verstappen’s 4th place is the same place that he qualified in back in 2018, and it looks as if Red Bull are in a similar position to where they were at the start of last year as well. If anything, their performance in 2018 might have been a bit better – Verstappen was closer to Vettel last year (0.04s versus 0.13s this year), and similarly they’re slightly further back from pole (0.71s in 2018, versus 0.83s this year).

      Now, there are limitations to the comparison with last year, and Red Bull were very unhappy with their set ups too – the reason for doing a lot of work on their long run pace in FP2 was because they went the wrong way and were trying to rectify their mistakes.

      We will see how the rest of the season pans out, because Red Bull and Ferrari have both been slow starters in recent seasons and usually looked much more competitive after a few races. However, rather than the big leap forward that they were confidently expecting to make, it looks more like they’re in a similar position to where they were at the start of 2018.

      1. Interesting points anon, thanks for that.

      2. I agree with your comments the season isn’t over yet.

      3. Good comments (real) anon.
        I’ve been puzzled about Red Bull’s bravado concerning Mercedes too. Even if they think they’re ahead – on testing and the first practice sessions – why make so much bluster about it? Qualifying suggested they’re somewhat unaligned with reality. The only reason that comes to mind is the need to inflate some kind of ‘Max bubble’ to keep her confident and happy, reinforced by the apparent lack of concern with leaving Gasly dumped in 17th. I don’t get it.

        1. @david-br, there are probably a number of factors that are in play there, some of which may be commercial and political factors, and some of which may be down to technical factors as well.

          One aspect is that Red Bull might have been caught out by the effectiveness of the upgrade package that Mercedes introduced ahead of the second test. To begin with, it may be that some thought that the W10 looked like a car that had a high maximum downforce potential, but had a relatively narrow operating window and therefore made it more difficult to access that maximum performance potential of the car.

          The introduction of the upgraded variant of the W10 for the second test did seem to solve some of those issues, but one thing that quite a few noted during this weekend was that the W10 seemed to be running an especially stiff spring set up this weekend.

          Now, that may – and it is only a maybe – hint that Mercedes do still have a slight issue with the car being more pitch sensitive than they would like, and therefore they are having to run a fairly stiff suspension set up to prevent the car pitching and yawing too much. That might be a possible weakness that Red Bull might think they can exploit, and it may be that they thought that Mercedes wasn’t able to access as much performance as they have been able to access this weekend, at least over one lap.

          Another aspect is that quite a few teams did seem to be struggling with cold graining in the pre-season tests, and Mercedes were one team that did seem to be hit harder than some. Marko did note that there was a possible risk that Red Bull were misjudging how competitive some of their rivals could be, and it may be that contributed to them underestimating how competitive Mercedes might be.

          It might also explain why, in those cooler pre-season tests, Ferrari looked a lot stronger then but, as Vettel has alluded to, as we’ve moved into the season and the ambient temperature is much higher, they’re now hitting problems with blistering and overheating their tyres whilst Mercedes are finding it easier to keep their tyres in the right operating window.

          Red Bull might have been similarly mislead by that trend, and thought that Mercedes might have been having more tyre problems than they actually did.

          In some ways, the acrimonious relationship between Red Bull and Renault may have also played some part. Emphasising the competitiveness of their team throughout the off season might, in part, have been a way of spiting Renault and creating positive headlines around Honda – the latter has been under pressure for some years, and although 2018 went some way to restoring some of their reputation, there do seem to still be doubts about whether Honda really was the right way for Red Bull to go.

          Playing up their perceived competitiveness in the press would therefore be a way of saying to the world “yes, we have made the right decision – it’s made us more competitive”, as well as acting as an implicit rebuke of Renault. As a team that is particularly keen for publicity, it was also a way of making sure that the team was frequently getting their name in the press in a positive light during the off season.

          It may also have been intended as a morale booster for their staff, particularly in light of Red Bull’s decision to fast track components that were originally intended for China. That implies that the team had to bring their workload forward by several weeks, which is likely to have been rather stressful and pushed them to doing extra shifts – however, you’re probably going to be more inclined to put in that extra effort if you believe that you are really competitive and that one last push is going to help you get to the front of the field.

          1. Thanks anon for the informative reply, enjoyable to read as always. Watching the Netflix series – somewhat maligned by people commenting here but providing a fresh dimension on F1 I thought – it was remarkable to see the animosity between Red Bull and Renault, and I was really floored by how personal the decision to lure Ricciardo had been, with Abiteboul clearly glowing from the feeling of revenge on Horner after he’d signed. So it makes sense that Red Bull would want to emphasize how successful they think they’ll be this season with Honda, as you said. It still seems strange they’d assume so much from Mercedes’ testing to presume they were ahead, though. Maybe their confidence will be proven right. But it seems more likely to me Mercedes have given themselves a car with a lot of potential to work with this year.

  22. Glad to see that some people remember last year Mercedes had the same kind of advantage in Qualifying for the first race. Also it has been so said so many times, the AusGP is not a true representation of the rest of the year.
    HOWEVER … Mercedes are better than most people thought but I still feel that tomorrow there will no no such “domination” as a lot of fans have already concluded.
    Let’s get back to this tomorrow morning (for me at least) and again when the circus arrives in Europe 😉

    1. Last year Ferrari had issues with their floor and the replacement wasn’t ready for Australia. This year is much different, one engineer from a rival team stated Ferrari were running “Winter Setup” today to get the maximum downforce, if this is true then that is a very bad news for Ferrari. This complies with reports that they were slower in the slow corners as well. Also it seems like MERC gained on the engine part as well. NO ONE can push for qualification laps during the race, they all nurse the engine and the tires, but i expect MERC to be stronger in Bahrain and China this year.

    2. But mercedes won both world titles last season?

      1. But they were still evenly matched, and it came down to which drivers performed better in the end

  23. Here come the “might as well give them the trophy now” brigade. It’s almost as if Mercedes haven’t bossed Melbourne qualifying the last two years and then still endured a season long battle against a Ferrari that’s a match or arguably faster than them.

    Yeah I still think Hamilton and Mercedes will triumph, but it’s going to be an interesting season watching them up against a clearly fast Ferrari and potentially resurgent Red Bull.

  24. Ham was great today. Mercedes once again produce a superb car which seems to have more development potential than Ferrari. Great work from the team and drivers.
    McLaren look competitive but French engine may be the worst on the grid and could hold them back a bit.

  25. Bottas for the win. I hope he can show his team how good he is and add a wrinkle or two on Wolff’s face.

  26. Oof, I had such high hopes for a more competitive season. It isn’t over by any means, but it doesn’t look like Ferrari or Red Bull have improved much at all whereas the midfield seems to have made big strides.

  27. Congrats to Lewis with pole number 84. Already started his tally for the season and delivered yet another early psychological blow to Bottas. Good to see Bottas keeping him honest though, generally seemed to be more consistent and comfortable with the set up of his car compared to Lewis.

    Vettel didn’t seem too down in the post quali grid interview. Indeed, it’s early days and he already knew Mercs were talking BS coming into the weekend, but with the hype surrounding Charles he’ll be happy to deliver the first blow in their team-mate battle.

    Red Bull still struggle to get the lap hooked up at Albert Park. Still, impressive by Max to split thr Ferraris when it should really have been a Ferrari 2nd row lock-out.

    Haas with a strong quali for the 2nd Aussie quali running. They can’t balls it up again this time surely??

    What a performance by the young Lando, driver of the day without a doubt for me. Not too surprising though given his pedigree prior to F1.

    Disappointing for Renault, though I imagine Ricciardo won’t be too unhappy with being outqualified, what with it being his first Renault outing. Reckon they’ll expect to gain some places in the race with the tyre advantage over the cars immediately infront.

    Expecting an unspectacular race for the top 5 tomorrow. Will be somewhat entertaining seeing how far Gasly can cut his way through and also if Norris can hold on to a points finish.

    Bring it on!!!

  28. I can’t believe how everyone was fooled by Mercedes again. This is 2014-16 all over again (not that Mercedes didn’t have the best car 2017-18). Terrible for the sport. It’s not like Hamilton was driving at an incredible level he only beat Bottas by one tenth.

    People will switch off in droves. Get Ocon in there mid season if Bottas is no chance for the title.

    1. Find me an expert or anything that proves Merc had the best car in 17/18 . Lap time and race pace over the entire season says the Ferrari was at least on the same level. If Merc was the best why was Bottas getting torched so often last year?

      1. Because Bottas is not a top driver!

        1. Joakim Järnström
          16th March 2019, 11:08

          “Because Bottas is not a top driver!” How many of the drivers would have beaten Hamilton last year or outqualified him today in the second Merc? Perhaps Max, but Max in the second Merc would cause a lot of other problems for the team.

          1. Max isn’t consistent enough to beat Hamilton over a season anyway. It took him 3 years to better RIC despite having a pace advantage over him. And I am not convinced that Max has more raw pace over Lewis anyway if you mute the hype. Many a time Max has had a RBR capable for pole- Singapore last year RBR were favourites and looked to be on course but Lewis produced that magical lap. Hungary last year in the wet as well- the rain is the “great equaliser”- Max was nowhere. Don’t get me wrong not saying Max isn’t a good driver. Just saying Lewis is more complete and has the pace to more than match the over-hyped Verstappen.

          2. Verstappen would beat Hamilton comfortably, not to mention not be intimidated by him at all.

            Ricciardo would also have beaten Hamilton in equal equipment.

            Those two have done sensational things with far inferior equipment to Hamilton’s Mercedes over the past several years.

            Let’s not forget Alonso, Hulkenberg would be a good chance to take it to Hamilton. Vettel had an off 2018, but he had no business being in the championship lead to begin with. Let’s not forget Rosberg if he was still around. He beat Hamilton in his final season.

          3. Interestingly enough Vettel’s time today wasn’t even as quick as Hamilton’s pole time from last year

      2. Joakim Järnström
        16th March 2019, 10:59

        Well, I would not use “torched”, but Lewis is generally a better driver than Bottas, which does not mean that Bottas is a bad driver, and the teams started to play for their no.1 drivers, at least after midseason. Only a person with great insight in both Merc and Ferrari (like a top engineer working for both teams) could prove which was the best car, as they were close in performance. Still in my opinion, Mercedes had the overall best car last year, and Red Bull had the best chassi.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      16th March 2019, 12:32

      Lots of people just believe anything they are told. It’ll be the same next year when Toto and Lewis say Ferrari are miles ahead in pre-season. The day they remain quiet rather than talking about Ferrari is the day Hamilton fans should be worried.

    3. Agree, it’s awful for the sport and I sadly am starting to lose a bit of interest. Never thought I’d say that but I am so sick of Merc and Hamilton dominating that it’s just sucking the enjoyment out of the sport. Hope he wrecks or the engine blows is my new mantra every race, at least then there is the air of unpredictability.

  29. 2021 can’t come soon enough!

    Ham might be talented but the way he’s been gifted most of his championships will never put him up there with the F1 greats.

    1. Comments like this really baffle me.
      F1 has always been about the car.
      Prost/Senna won in dominant Mclarens for years. Schumi in Ferrari with the benefit
      of being the #1 driver.
      Fangio won in the best Mercs of that era.
      All F1 greats have had the best car. The best drivers drive for the best teams. How F1
      has always worked and presumably how F1 will always work.

      Why is Lewis the exception then (rhetorical question).

  30. Lenny (@leonardodicappucino)
    16th March 2019, 11:09

    Why do the last few seasons all feel so scripted? Every year, in winter testing, Mercedes convince everyone that Ferrari are fastest, Red Bull say they can fight with Merc and Ferrari, and everyone thinks the midfield is closer. In Australia, Merc takes pole by a mile over Ferrari, Red Bull still can’t mix it, and the midfield hasn’t really caught up. Ferrari takes the win, so we’re all still hopeful. In the first half of the season, Merc and Ferrari are neck and neck with Red Bull a little ways behind, except at Monaco. Then, halfway through the season, Ferrari completely capitulates, Red Bull suddenly catch up to Mercedes, early enough that Ferrari don’t have a chance of competing for the championships, but late enough that Mercedes can still use their threat to subjugate Bottas to wingmanning. Red Bull win a few races, but are never close enough to seriously challenge for the title, and Merc and Lewis saunter to another title. Then we repeat the cycle for the next season. Doesn’t mean I can ignore the false hope instilled in me and am still going to be excited for the hope of closeness in this season.

    1. +1: completely right

  31. Mercedes and Ferrari have very different aero solutions to the new regulations – and it seems like Mercedes have built themselves a twitchier but ultimately more powerful downforce car, at least for now. Alfa Romeo and Haas also look in good shape. As ever, how they heat up and eat through tyres will be crucial though (right now it seems Ferrari have more problems but we have to see the race and later tracks).

    Norris already looking like he could make a serious impact even in a highly talented field, great performance today.

  32. Looks like it’s season over already, Hamilton v Vettel again with Hamilton taking the championship and no other team with a chance of a podium unless major retirements. Good luck SKY UK getting people to pay to watch this farce.

    1. Watch Sky F1 on TotalSportek.com for free.

  33. I think the difference this year to Melbourne last year is that Bottas is also half a second ahead of Vettel. That’s staggering dominance.

  34. Only positive this year is that i can watch F1 on my phone from F1 TV app and whole season was only $80! Yay 😁

  35. Ham is the GOAT.

    1. Not even in the top 5…

  36. One wonders why Red Bull persist with Helmut Mario. Mclaren second last eh?

    1. Itsa meeeeee Helmut Maaaaaaario.

  37. I love reading all the people saying ‘it’s just the first race’. Like, it was ‘just the first race’ back in 2014, 15 & 16 and look what happened. Even 17/18 when Ferrari were a lot closer Mercedes still looked the stronger package. I’d be genuinely shocked if Hamilton doesn’t just walk off with the championship.

    To me, Ferrari don’t look as close to Mercedes as they were last year and Red Bull have almost certainly slipped. I feel this is going to be a long year, unless you support silver.

  38. Electroball76
    16th March 2019, 14:20

    F1 could formally split the field into FOP1 and FOP2 classes, and also a Sports class (for Williams)

  39. Now let’s all stay cool and go race by race and try to enjoy the season.
    Seems like too many are sort of going bonkers with the first qualifying.

    Let’s see how tomorrow’s race goes and maybe we’ll have some surprises.
    C’mon cheer up everyone it’s just Formula One.

    Cars look good this year and they’re pretty fast too.

  40. Antonio Martinez
    16th March 2019, 16:13

    Is over yet? No, but…
    Mercedes has shown over and over they are the best team. Better development, better strategy, better pit stops,… Ham also delivers when needed while Vettel has shown weakness under pressure. So, putting things in a simple way: Ferrari needs to have a much stronger car than Mercedes to have a go, and even if we inverted the times I wouldn’t be sure to put my money on them.
    At least the battle at the midfield looks promising.

  41. Well, season’s gonna suck. I knew Merc were lying about their testing woes. Another Merc and Hamilton cakewalk. Barf. This is the crap that pushes people away.

    1. @jblank

      It’s crazy how many people said the same thing last year when Hamilton took pole by a similar margin… and look at how the rest of the season panned out. If it wasn’t for Vettel’s blunders, last season would have gone down to the last race. There was nothing to choose between Ferrari and Mercedes’ machinery last year despite Mercedes dominating qualifying in Australia.

      1. I’ll bet you a dollar Merc and Hamilton wrap up the constructors and drivers titles with at least two races to go.

  42. only pushes people away if you dont like who is winning…. excellence must still be rewarded! im a mclaren fan. and a lewis fan. lastly a merc fan. i am very critical about mclaren. but i never stopped watching. remember the redbull years? i never stop watching. remember the schumi,ferrari years i never stop watching.these drives are driving the fastest cars the fastest ever. keep watching. win or lose. be a true fan of the sport. i am.

    1. You are a true fan man.

      I actually stopped watching F1 regularly during the Schumi years.. From Austria 2002 to the end of 2004, I only watched a handful of races.

      My interest has dwindled slightly after Alonso retiring.. but I’m liking some of the new talents – Verstappen, Leclerc, etc.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      16th March 2019, 19:02

      Good on you. I haven’t watched a session yet as I’m a bad fan. Going for Indycar and Formula E this year. I’ll watch the race tomorrow and hope for some excitement but I lost a lot of interest last year and can’t do another full year like that.

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