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Vettel blitzes pole position for Australian Grand Prix
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Vettel blitzes pole position for Australian Grand Prix
Posted By: James Allen  |  26 Mar 2011   |  8:40 am GMT  |  233 comments

World champion Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the Australian Grand Prix today, the first race of the 2011 season. Lewis Hamilton, despite a KERS problem, was a surprise second ahead of Mark Webber. Meanwhile Hispania Racing, who hardly did any laps all weekend, missed the cut for qualifying and are out of the Grand Prix.

It was a totally dominant performance from Vettel, who didn’t even use the KERS system, so left 4/10ths of a second in his pocket. Hamilton was 17km/h slower through Turn 11 than the Red Bull – that is pure downforce. He was 8/10ths off Vettel in the end, but warned him that “We will catch you up.”

But this Red Bull RB7 has the dominant look about it of the 1992 Williams or the 2004 Ferrari.

McLaren have done well to turn an unreliable, slow car in winter testing into one capable of starting on the front row, Hamilton did a good job, but splitting the Red Bulls had more to do with Webber underperforming than anything else. Hamilton’s KERS failed on his final hot lap, which cost him around 2/10ths of a second.

Webber didn’t use KERS either “for reasons we will keep in the team,” he said, leading to speculation that it was to mask the car’s true speed. Although a few hours after qualifying, it emerged that the team may have a “start only system” (see separate post)

“There’s a fraction more emotion with it being a home race,” said a disconsolate Webber, “But you have to perform everywhere you go. I didn’t put myself in the best position today.”

Webber qualified 7/100ths off Vettel here last year, it was almost a second today, so why has this happened? He has had an intense programme of off track activities in the last 10 days and looked harassed in an interview with Australian TV a couple of hours before qualifying. But even being distracted doesn’t explain such a big margin. Webber accepted full responsibility for underperforming.

It was a tricky session which was all about tyre temperature, with many drivers who had been expected to do well failing to make the grade.

The pole time was half a second faster than last year’s pole time, even allowing for the change of tyres from Bridgestone to Pirelli and the banning of double diffusers, which is an incredible achievement. The arrival of KERS, adjustable rear wings and great work by the engineers has neutralised the changes.

Judging from this high speed photo, the Red Bull still has a front wing which is getting very low to the ground when under aerodynamic load. It passes the much more stringent FIA tests, but clearly there are no limits to what the team can achieve with advanced carbon fibre layering techniques.

It was the first qualifying system using the new adjustable rear wing and it was interesting to see how much the system gave the various teams. Red Bull had less of a gain than Mercedes, but the most confident drivers, like Vettel, were using it in the middle of the chicane.

Qualifying started in cold conditions with strong crosswinds blowing through the track and many drivers struggled to find grip and get the tyres up to temperature. Hispania had hardly turned a lap all weekend, apart from a very slow one in practice for Kartikeyan which blocked several other cars.

After missing out on the 107% qualifying time, the stewards decided not to allow them to race in the Grand Prix. Meanwhile Virgin’s lack of progress from last year to this meant that they too were on the verge of not qualifying for the race. There is huge disappointment in the team with how far off they are.

Nick Heidfeld was the shock loser from Q1, eliminated along with the Lotus, Virgin and Hispania cars. He has been outperformed by his team mate Vitaly Petrov this weekend and it’s been a very tough start for the German. Lotus were disappointing; although they had six tenths over the Virgin cars, the gap to the established teams was still two seconds, a lot more than winter testing had suggested. Kovalainen had problems with his rear wing and like many cars the drivers struggled to get temperature into their tyres.

Ferrari surprisingly took soft tyres for Q1, indicating that they were struggling to get temperature into the hard tyres. Meanwhile McLaren and Red Bull both took hard tyres.

In Q2 Rubens Barrichello lost his car early on and got stuck in a gravel trap. He ended up 17th on the grid, outqualified by his team mate Maldonado. Hamilton took the hard tyres again, Vettel and Webber went with softs, but had to abort the lap when Barrichello went off.

Sutil had a huge spin coming onto the pit straight, showing what happens when you deploy the adjustable rear wing at the wrong moment. He was 16th on the grid. team mate and rookie Paul di Resta qualified 14th.

Mercedes were not on the pace that they showed in testing, Schumacher failed to make the cut for the top ten.

Sergio Perez was outclassed by team mate Kamui Kobayashi and ended up 13th.

Petrov did a fine job for Renault, but Ferrari was the big surprise, clearly unable to get heat into their tyres, Massa really suffered from it. “I thought Ferrari would be closer to us, but it’s just the tyres.”

AUSTRLIAN GRAND PRIX, Albert Park, Qualifying

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233 Comments
  1. Nick Hipkin says:

    Hi James,

    Would you be able to elaborate any further on Red Bull’s front wing. Ive read that they are using revolutionary materials that can flex at higher speeds, can you shed any more light on this and whether any other teams have also looked into this?

    1. Jean-Christophe says:

      Would like to know what the rules say exactly here James. Do they say that the wing must not flex or does it only say that you need to pass FIA scrutiny? This RB7 front wing does flex a lot !

      1. Nick Hipkin says:

        I think its a case that the wing must not flex when they do the load tests on it, but thats only when its stationary. How can they police it when its out on track as obviously once up to speed its flexing lots.
        Personally i take my hat off to red bull for producing yet another amazing car

      2. Rich M says:

        It has to pass the test only

      3. quetric says:

        I can’t believe people are getting into the same ridiculous argument as last season. The wings will flex whether by design or not. Even if they make them out of steel-reinforced concrete they would still flex. So what would be the point of a rule stating wings cannot flex at all? The proper way to enforce limits on flexing is to design a load test, which they did. Which Red Bull passed. Get over it guys.

      4. Jean-Christophe says:

        Flexing is one thing. Scrapping the ground purposefully is another. Don’t get me wrong. I admire Newey’s genius and ability to produce great cars. But regarding the front wing, I think he’s gone too far.

      5. Born 1950 says:

        Last time I looked there are two rules that are relevant. One says the aero dynamic aids must not move and the other says the no body parts may close up the gap between the floor of the car and the road surface. However the teams are only required to pass a static test which applies loads in the form of weights to the wings. More than a given amount of weight-induced flexing means the car fails the test.

        In the case of Red Bull they seem to have cracked a way of making the wings flex in race conditions — while it can still pass the scrutineering test. Some suggest it’s a cheat.

      6. Sebee says:

        Is suspenson springs/shocks a body part?

        I’m begining to suspect something in the suspenson. Wouldn’t be hard to hide something which can be pushed like a peddal to compress the front and lower the car.

  2. CartRider says:

    I am wondering what would happen if Hispania hadn’t participated in the qualifying at all. Would it have been permitted to race or banned from racing pursuant to the 107% rule? Take for example, the last year’s situation with Alonso in Monaco when he was unable to take part in the quali because of the crash in the third practice.

    1. Galapago555 says:

      No 107% rule last year.

      FIA 2011 Sporting Regulations:

      “36) THE GRID
      36.3 During Q1, any driver whose best qualifying lap exceeds 107% of the fastest time set during that session
      will not be allowed to take part in the race. Under exceptional circumstances however, which may include setting a suitable lap time in a free practice session, the stewards may permit the car to start the race.”

      In Monaco 2010, Fernando had set more than suitable times during free practice sessions.

      1. wayne says:

        What is the deal with Hispania? Are they a tax scam, an early (or late) April fool joke, someone paying off a debt? Whatever they are they are not fit to race in F1. They offer nothing what so ever. They absolutely should not be allowed to race as they are a potential danger to their drivers and the rest of the field An utter disgrace.

    2. Andy Smith says:

      I wonder if it depeneds on the “exceptional circumstances” if they would be allowed to race. Fortunately they aren’t, 1 year in they should be able to produce a car for testing. Never mind the team looking bad, it looks bad for the sport having a team that cant perform.

    3. Gate 21 says:

      If the “Alonso-in-Monaco-not-qualifying” situation were to be replicated with the 107% rule, the FIA would be able to justify allowing him to race if times from free practice were fast enough.

      Would also be used if it rains during Q1 while half the field haven’t set a time. As long as they can show that they can lap regularly and a fast enough pace, they’ll be allowed to compete.

  3. Patrick McLaughlin says:

    Fairly ominous performance from Red Bull. McLaren’s performance is equally impressive considering where everyone thought they were during winter testing.

    I think the Ferrari is easier on its tyres than these two and perhaps this is why they struggled so much, in relatively low track temperatures.

    Fernando vs Petrov into 1st corner will be interesting. I m sure there is no love lost there !

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      The gap managed by RedBull is so huge, I’m starting to fear for the season. We might head for a boring one guys. Add to that the poor showing by Webber and we’re in big big trouble.

      Our only hope is that it’s Saturday and it’s Melbourne. We hope that RedBull eats its tires much more than the others and that Melbourne (as we know) doesn’t reflect the trend.

      1. Damian J says:

        Might not be boring if McLaren catch the Redbulls. It would seem that there are many changes that could bring the McLaren up to par with the Redbull before there are any flexi wing changes. A tweak or two hear and there and I think McLaren could pip the team from Milton Keynes.

        Your sudden lack of enthusiasm for 2011 may be because Ferrari did not perform as you had expected.

      2. devilsadvocate says:

        It must be a little terrifying that when called to do so Vettel easily summed nearly 1second of pace even over his own teammate, he was lapping with the comfort of free practice and Lewis locked his tires on more than one occasion trying to keep him within reach. Big on Mclaren for putting their money where their mouth is, I will admit to being very skeptical of them back in Barca, I suggest Martin whitmarsh write a thank you letter to the ruling family in Bahrain for the little gift his country gave the boys at macca

      3. James says:

        I doubt it will be that boring. A lot were writing off last season after the first race and we’re only in qualifying. And anyway, wouldn’t you like to see if Vettel can be the first driver to win every race in a season? ;)

      4. Paul Kirk says:

        NO!!!!!!
        PK.

      5. RickeeBoy says:

        It’s looking like a fundamental package by Red Bull which makes it faster. The McLaren is fast but its got KERS and it long very long to incorporate the KERS added cooling and produce a package which works … and they have done that very well but its still big.

        The Red Bull has probably dispensed with KERS charging and and Kers cooling and therefore it only needs a smaller car, smaller radiators, actually a tiny car which turns corns far better.

        Everybody is having SIZE problems from the additional requiremnets of KERS.

        The RB7 may just be a pretty, aerodynamic small, have it’s COG situated really low , simple, uncomplicated package which handles really well and consequently it doesn’t ruin tyres. When you add additional weight(KERS) it lengthens the wheelbase as the FIA specifically demanded a Front / rear weight ration to be the same for all cars. That could be simple reason that RB7 is mega quick – It just a back to basics, well packaged super light F1 car without any big extra’s of KERS.

  4. Fausto Cunha says:

    What a show by Sebastian, without using kers and without a perfect lap and still on pole by 3/4 of a second.The RB7 confirms the expectations.
    Mclaren very well, reliable and fast surprising many people.
    Ferrari a disapoitment, i do´t think they expected that difference to the Red Bull.
    Mercedes also disapoiting, i think Ross Brawn will be shocked by this almost 2 seconds for the Red Bull.
    I don´t remember such a big difference in the last years at a first race at the top, the 10º place is 2.5 seconds away and that´s a lot.

    Hoping for a great race, we can only hope!!

    On the tyres, they looked ok but a litle bit difficult to notest at high speed and specially from the sides what tyre was in use, on the onboard camera it´s ok.

    1. Jack says:

      only two contrasting colors will be used, so if you don’t see a silver/white blur, it will be a yellowish blur, easy enough.

      1. RickeeBoy says:

        If a car goes fast it’s good to tyres so I see RBR followed by Mclaren as the cars who be best on tyres. Ferrari and Merc’s I see as having problems.

    2. Nigel says:

      I have read other posts where people complain about not being able see the colour markings on the tyres. Here in the USA the commentators on SpeedTV seem to be able to spot the colours immediately and have provided the info through all practice sessions and the qualifying…

      1. Flakey says:

        I could not see the silver at anything above a crawl, but could see the yellow easily. Therefore, worked on the premise that if no colour it was the silver tire.

  5. Max Wright says:

    James, what’s the future of HRT? I’m sure with some testing the car could get within the 107% boundary. But it cannot do HRT any good to show up having not turned a wheel in anger expecting to beat the 107 rule with two drivers who are not proven fast. No doubt people will not take them seriously.

    1. Seán Craddock says:

      & how can they come to a GP and not build the car in time for the start? I can’t understand that, do they have a lack of mechanics r something? They were putting their car together during FP!

      And their car looks ridiculous trying to sell advertising space; “your name here”.

      Also James, do HRT even have a DRS? I couldn’t see them using one and their rear wing looks like it doesn’t have a movable section. Looks like a v high downforce wing to me

      1. Paul Kirk says:

        What worries me (on behalf of HRT) is how big is the penalty they have to pay if they miss races. This may explain why they came to Melbourne evan though they aren’t ready to race yet.
        PK.

    2. Nigel says:

      Would HRT have shown up in Bahrain at all?

  6. Armin says:

    Makes you wonder if they didnt use the KERS because of technical reason or mask they true pace. Masking their true pace seems to be less likely reason.
    Anyway they are at least 1s infront Macca and 2s infront Ferrari. Nice work from them.
    It will be interessting to see how tyres hold up entire race. Looking from the practice Bulls will be at least 0.5 – 1s faster then any1 else.
    Going to be a “catch Bulls year” again.

  7. John says:

    Extremely disappointed as a Ferrari fan to see this. It looks like they’ve put together another chaser of a car (last year at least they started off better) and i’m sure they’ll expect Alonso to fight for the title.

    It seems to me like their designers just plain don’t do an exceptional job, period. They went conservative and start every season saying the objective is to win the championship, maybe its time to set an objective of not letting the fans down. If you are going to publicly set high targets each year, shouldn’t you be providing the fastest car at least once every 3 years? Absurd!

    I’d rank their true speed as closer to Mercedes and possibly Renault. Furthermore, their car doesn’t even seem evolutionary enough to progress as much as the Mclaren or Renault. To say that I am sick of the advantage RedBull have because of Newey is an understatement…I’m actually bordering on rooting for Button in the Mclaren just so we don’t have to watch a whitewash for an entire year. Go every other team but Red Bull!

    1. Galapago555 says:

      Hear hear, maybe you are a little too harsh, while it is too soon to tell IMO.

      Fernando said (to Spanish telly) “we’ve made something wrong, we have to find out what it is”. That’s the point for the moment. They’ve been consistently .5 sec behind the Bulls and almost another .5 sec -or more- faster that the rest on the winter tests. I bet that’s the situation we’ll have tomorrow during the race.

      I also bear in mind that this year the pole is not as important as it used to be. Strategy and tyre management will be the race deciders.

      So let’s wait and see. Finally a race! Wow!

  8. Max Wright says:

    Ps, WOW at Red Bull no KERS and sooooo fast.

    1. Gaspar says:

      Well i think Vettel was fast not despite not using KERS , rather he was fast BECAUSE he’s not using the KERS . This will be an another controversy , i think the top teams made an agrement last year to use KERS , everybody , but probably nobody sad explicitly : functional ,so heavyer KERS :) This is a loophole perfectly used by Red Bull .

  9. Barry says:

    What is find interesting is the difference in times between for the teammates front runners. What could be the reason(s) for this gap?

    1. Jean-Christophe says:

      The mastering of DRS. Some might be more skillfull at that I suspect.

    2. rodger says:

      I think it shows the difference in quality between the top teams’ no 1 and no 2 drivers. There’s a lot for a driver to do and think about this year, and the better the driver the greater the advantage. Cue Hamilton beating Button by 0.5s, alonso beating Massa by 0.6s and Vettel walloping Webber by 0.9s. Embarassing.

      1. David Ryan says:

        Could be any number of things – tyre temperature differences, track conditions, missed apexes or getting baulked. One qualifying session does not a form guide make, and I wouldn’t say the differences in their respective abilities automatically leads to such margins – particularly on a circuit such as Albert Park which is a bit of an oddball circuit (in the nicest way).

      2. jack_faith says:

        I suppose if Hamilton had his kers the true difference would have been more like 0.8 between him and Button. Odd, because the rest of weekend has been been evenly matched. Disappointing to see Schuey not make the top 10. Things were looking promising.

      3. James Hobson says:

        It’s too soon to judge the parity between drivers in the same teams based on one session. Button has been matching and beating Hamilton this weekend until Quali. He had little tyre heat going into his final run as Rosberg was holding him up on his warm up lap and as a result destroyed his final time with cold tyres in sector 1. Vettel has been a class act but Webber never goes well around Melbourne and has looked a little on edge out of the car too. Alonso on the other hand very much has the rule over Massa who is struggling trying to get heat into the Pirellis and making lots of errors.

  10. Rov says:

    Lewis lost KERS for his final lap too james so that needs to be taken into account

    1. Mario says:

      RB did not use theirs at all. Every one asks the question whether it was by design?

  11. HR says:

    James,

    I hear that Lewis also had a KERS failure, so his lap was pretty special.

  12. Lee says:

    Personally i think as per Stefano Domenicali’s comments Ferrari is all about race pace and tomorrow will be there or there abouts fighting with Mc and RB.

  13. Tom says:

    Could it be that RBR have decided that there is more advantage to be gained by optimising the gear ratios over the race than by setting the ratios to allow both KERS and the DRS in qualifying?

    I doubt Vettel will ever actually use the DRS in the race so perhaps they’ve borne this in mind and set up the car to max out when either DRS or KERS is employed, but preventing the use of both.

    1. Slowflow says:

      Exactly!

      They have gone about this expecting to be on pole. What that means in the race is, Vettel will likely NOT use the DRS except when he re-enters the race from the pits, after stopping for fresh rubber.

      It will be interesting how lewis attacks Seb, with DRS & Kers, without banging up against the limiter.

      Tomorrow will be interesting for sure, up front, perhaps less so, than in the mid field.

      :)

      1. Jean-Christophe says:

        You can’t use DRS whenever you want anyway during the race. So he won’t be able to use it when re-entering the race.

    2. Starstrike says:

      KERS is best utilised as soon as the car’s acceleration stops being traction limited, but while it is still going relatively slow – not when it is near top speed.
      So it shouldn’t be a matter of gear ratios – even if the top speed were limited by race-set gear ratios, the faster acceleration up to that speed would save lap time by using KERS.

      1. Tom says:

        Yeah good point Starstrike – KERS can help catapult you towards getting a tow but not do a tow’s “work”, so shouldn’t affect the ratios in that sense.

        FWIW, Scarb’s latest tweets say that he believes charging a battery outside the car is illegal. Which suggests that it might be a very small charge over, say five laps rather than one, and which will be ready to use at the start, having been charged through qualifying. (I got this idea from Richard’s 6pm post on Adam Cooper’s blog.)

  14. Ajit says:

    Hi James

    There was talk about Schumacher complaining on the radio about a wrong tyre choice. Can you throw some light on it. Do you think he was in for a top 10 if the call was right? Is there any advantage starting 11th?

  15. Joseph says:

    James,
    What went wrong for Schumi?
    What went wrong for Mercedes?

    1. Dom says:

      A fast team-mate!

  16. Jean-Christophe says:

    Hamilton wasn’t able to use kers either.
    Kers failure is more of a disadvantage than choosing not to use it as it affects break balance.
    Besides we don’t know for sure why Redbull didn’t use it. It might be for general performance reasons so using it might have slowed them down.

  17. tank says:

    I think even fans of Vettel are in shock over that performance. Absolute dominance. All the other cars were squirming around trying to get the power down, but Vettel’s RB was in a groove!

    Of the other teams, everyone but Macca will be scratching their heads.

  18. Michael says:

    You (conveniently?) forgot that Hamilton’s KERS wasn’t working.

    According to Whitmarsh, it affected his brake balance, which widened the gap, if anything.

    I agree with you that Webber should have been second, but I think ~0.5-0.8 sec is the real gap between those 2 teams.

    Great analysis, James.

  19. Chakala says:

    Hello James great blog.
    “McLaren have done well to turn an unreliable, slow car in winter testing into one capable of starting on the front row, Hamilton did a good job, but splitting the Red Bulls had more to do with Webber underperforming than anything else”.

    To argue Lewis split the bulls simply because Webber underperformed is diluting Lewis achievement today considering Jenson had Kers and Lewis didn’t.

    1. David Jones says:

      Totally agree, a very impressive performance by Lewis given the speed of the Red Bulls, and beatign your team mate by half a second! How fast would HE be in the Red Bull….

      1. freaky says:

        on pole for sure

    2. FemiA says:

      A bit disappointed by that comment from JA. Will he have made the same comment if Button had been 0.6 sec ahead of LH? I kinda doubt it.

      I wonder why a section of British press dislike LH so much?

      1. Tony says:

        They don’t dislike the guy, they just know he’s special and hard to beat.

        Even Alonso suggested Ham is the quickest at the mo.

    3. Revilo says:

      Thats is bit strange wouldn’t you say. I wonder if it would have been described as a good lap if JB had been the driver.

      1. Vinola says:

        No, the headlines would have been: Button Steals the Show with Stupendous Senna-esque Drive as Vettel settles for Pole.
        I like JA’s insightful analysis on these pages, but I’m mystified by his thinly disguised dim view of Lewis’s skills. I mentioned this last year here and I’m glad more readers of this blog are taking notice. He still remains my favorite F1 journalist.

      2. Jo Torrent says:

        I am stunned by the way Hamilton fans attack James Allen, I’ve been reading this blog for a long time and James – who’s generally very balanced – has rarely been criticized for being too hard or too soft on some.

        [mod]

    4. StallionGP F1 says:

      So you honestly believe that if webber was in the groove like vettel lewis will beat him. I would suggest a wake up call for you I always tot maclaren were masking their true pace through testing and I wasn’t wrong.

      1. James Allen says:

        Yes you were. The car was all over the place. Martin Brundle and I watched it for an afternoon in Barcelona and it was obvious – no sandbagging.

      2. David Jones says:

        Hi james, could you also respond to the (many) comments above that you were a bit harsh on lewis – in fact the comment you responded to orignally related to this fact. Do you feel that you have to be that bit harder on Lewis to avoid accusations of bias?

      3. James Allen says:

        I’m bored with this now. I have nothing against Lewis. He did a great job yesterday. If you don’t like it there are many other websites to read.

  20. Relativity says:

    Adrian Newey’s RB7 must have left a pit lane full of engineers scratching their heads! How are they going to catch the RB7 this year. They haven’t even used KERS yet!

    Kobayashi and Petrov were the surprise of Oz qualifying. The things that must be going through Heidfeld’s head at this time!

    On another note, I am just so happy that the 2011 season is underway. It seemed like it took forever to get this season going.

    James, will you be conducting all the driver interviews (qualifying and race) this year?

  21. Toby S says:

    Great to see you on Aussie tv James! Really enjoyed the segment with the Williams car.

    1. jack_faith says:

      would be even better to see you on the BBC, James! I guess everyone is pleased Legard has moved on.

      Isn’t Brundle recommending DC a bit questionable (given that Brundle has managed DC)? Still, at least it means there will be a better rapport.

  22. Luke A says:

    James, it’s kind of important that forgot to mention Hamilton had a KERS failure during his final hot lap and thus lost a few tenths. He also would have suffered from poor brake bias/balance, whereas the Red Bull was obviously set up to intentionally not use KERS.

    Can you please add this to your article, or else the gap you mention from Vettel to Hamilton is slightly unfair and misleading.

    1. Nick Lange says:

      McLaren have done well to turn an unreliable, slow car in winter testing into one capable of starting on the front row, Hamilton did a good job, but splitting the Red Bulls had more to do with Webber underperforming than anything else. -Hamilton’s KERS failed on his final hot lap, which cost him around 2/10ths of a second.-

      (highlighted using -’s, seems it was mentioned.)

  23. Tom says:

    I think there must be more to the non-use of KERs by Red Bull than to hide pace. The teams must know what an optimized KERs system generally brings to the table so with both RB drivers openly admitting it wasn’t used (not trying to hide pace), the other teams can probably guess the best potential time RB can make.

    I think it is more likely that they aren’t seeing the benefits from it (when brake balance is factored in) or they think there may be reliability problems. Let us not forget that this is their first season using it and 2009 caused Ferrari and McLaren to really struggle at first.

    Also, Hamilton wasn’t using KERs either in his Q3 time due to a malfunction and yet still had to put up with the effect on braking caused by KERs.

  24. Luke A says:

    Also James, why would RB want to mask their true pace in Q3 of the first race? Surely they’d want to intimidate everyone?

    If they don’t show their true pace in qualifying then when will they show it. Very strange if you ask me. I can’t see them not using KERS unless they could get an advantage from taking that route. Maybe there is more to this than meets the eye and they’re trying to hide a benefit of not using KERS and only using it for overtaking / the race start.

    1. Luca says:

      perhaps KERS is just too much of a distraction for the drivers and given you get more out of the DRS in performance over the lap…. also once you factor in the effect on brake balance, it may be worth just disabling it..?

  25. mawchi says:

    1) Well done for Mclaren and Hamilton.
    2) So top 3 did not use KERS! so much for KERS comeback…
    3) Ferrari losing one second! in last sector alone! reliable though

    1. frosty says:

      Jenson did use KERS

      1. MISTER says:

        That’s exactly what he said.
        Vettel, Hamilton & Webber didnt use KERS.

      2. Jo Torrent says:

        Hamilton used 40% of his KERS energy. He wasn’t completely deprived from it.

  26. Dave Eckhart says:

    This season is going to be a red bull washout.

    1. Mario says:

      That is what I am afraid of. Hopefully every one will catch up, and catch up quickly.

    2. Pargo says:

      Not necessarily. Two days ago everyone was saying Ferrari look hot and the McLarens are done for. Things change quickly in F1, so there still may be some surprises in store for us.

  27. Andy c says:

    Stunning pace from seb today. Really impressive.

    Delighted to see McLaren do well in Quali. Expect the anti Mclaren lot to be quieter today ;-)

    Surprised that Ferrari weren’t as fast today. Funniest tweet of the day from @Charlie_whiting…
    “Interesting, Alonso doesn’t usually use his “spin massa” button until race day.”

    1. Damian J says:

      Funny isn’t it that the McLaren sneering from the red brigade has stopped. We were led to believe that was going to be a “shoo-in” between Alonso and Redbull. It now looks like a three way fight. Remarkable performance from McLaren.

      1. Andy c says:

        I certainly smiled Damian ;-)

    2. Jo Torrent says:

      McLaren were miserable as expected. But Ferrari were catastrophic. I can’t understand how everyone put them behind and close to RedBull ?

      It’s only Saturday, it’s only Melbourne but the gap is so huge….

      1. Jean-Christophe says:

        McLaren were miserable ? 0.5 – 0.8 sec with an exhaust bolted in 10 days hence not fully optimised bodes well to me.

      2. Azri says:

        No, they were not miserable. They did brilliantly if you take into the account how they performed over the winter. Remember 98 season when the McLarens were lapping around 2 seconds faster than everybody else in the season opener? but still Schumacher drag the championship battle to the very last race. Expect Alonso/Hamilton/Button and their respective teams to do the same thing this time around.

      3. For Sure says:

        *The Matrix* has you mate, you’re dreaming
        *wink*
        Time to wake up, Mclaren have upset the established order.
        And for the record, I am not a fan of them.

      4. Jack says:

        Jo….you’re doing it again.

      5. james b says:

        ‘Mclaren were miserable as expected’. You certainly didn’t expect them to be P2 and P4 with one of their drivers out qualifying a Red Bull!!! What was the rubbish you were spouting about Whitmarsh!!! Oh I love how you must be feeling right now seeing Mclaren so fast!!!

        As for the season being a write off remember Mclaren basically have done this on one days testing. There is more to come from them and I expect it to be like last year where the Red Bulls don’t have quite the same race pace.

      6. Steve says:

        So you think 2nd & 4th are miserable? Funny that because it seems like you’re turning into a miserable troll!

      7. Peter C says:

        ‘Miserable as expected’…….Oh please. Why is it you can’t bear to give McL any credit for improving things in a short amount of time?

        It is noticeable that McL fans rarely criticise Ferrari,but are expected to put up with a constant onslaught of ‘British Press, British teams’ etc.

        We may support a British team but try to be good mannered about it while we do.

        Enjoy the race !

      8. Jo Torrent says:

        What a series of comments mates, I’m not hiding that I don’t like nothing about McLaren starting with Dennis and ending with Hamilton. But eventhough I’m a Ferrari fan, I criticize them a lot mainly their president and the Italian flags he keeps adding to the car.

        The Italian team is criticized much more and in a much harsher way by the Italian press than McLaren.

        McLaren fans don’t accept critics I see and Hamilton fans even less.

        If this year is a close fight between RedBull and McLaren, I’ll enjoy it a lot yet hoping that McLaren looses at the last race. I prefer that to seeing Ferrari dominating the season the way it did during the TODT/Schumi days.

  28. jonrob says:

    Did no one else notice that on Friday Nick H lost part of the winglet on the right and on Saturday P3 he lost the same on the left.
    It turned out according to the R5Live commentary that these were turning vanes attached to the brake duct which of course is illegal.

    1. Philip says:

      James,

      I’ve not seen this said anywhere else, & I don’t know the regs well enough to judge. Can you shed any light? Ta.

  29. brooksy007 says:

    Webber did look very tired before quali, I saw him interviewed 30mins beforehand and it raised concern with me then! He has had a frantic pre race schedule as you said james. He’s the kind of guy that tries to give a lot of himself to his aussie fans. Let’s hope he has a good rest and a stela race tomorrow.

    1. Jonty says:

      Yes he was looking shattered and was short with Jake Humphrey. Uncharacteristic.

    2. jack_faith says:

      yep. totally. Webber was looking like he was coming off a 3 day bender or a bout of wrapped up in bed for the week flu.

  30. matthew cheshire says:

    Webber will be hearing radio messages in his dreams “Sebastien is faster than you.”

    1. Jean-Christophe says:

      “can you confirm you understood? ” lol

      1. TheLegend says:

        “that message?” ;)

    2. Paul Kirk says:

      Or “Mark, you’ve got to save fuel”.
      PK.

  31. BenM says:

    James do you think that it could be down to Vettel being happy to get the DRS activated earlier or keeping it open that could be the reason he shaded Webber by so much today?

  32. james b says:

    Very interesting session.

    For me the stars were Mclaren and Petrov. Mclaren for there remarkable transformation that was laughed at by many. Petrov for his performance that shows the boy has talent and that he just needs to get it under control. His career to date reminds me very much of Massa.

    Forecast for tomorrow all depends on the Red Bull. Is it as quick in race pace, does it tyres go off quicker than it’s rivals or do they manage to press the self destruct button. Personally I think Vettel has this sewn up as Webber is too far away from him. What will be interesting though is if the Red Bull doesn’t use the KERS then Hamilton and Button will possibly overtake 1 car each. Which will mean a first lap order of Ham Vet But Web……

    1. TheLegend says:

      Red Bull uses Kers at starts.

  33. Jack says:

    Just to add, Hamilton’s KERS was malfunctioning on his fastest Q3 lap…

    1. Paul Kirk says:

      Oh yeah, and am I correct in understanding the car can’t be worked on after qualli?
      PK.

  34. sonu says:

    really astonished by mclaren…
    their speed out of the box amazes me, bodes well for the rest of the season… hopefully they can catch redbull before its too late
    and James you thoughts on meca wings flexing, do you thing any other team has copied the technique to good effect and which team is it.. if any??

  35. Nicholas Martin says:

    With the redbulls comment on Kers, do they have it on the car at all? Or would they have to inform this to the FIA so the graphic on the tv is removed?

    I just cant think of much advantage in not using unless its just mind games in which case its worked on me!

  36. Ian Joyner says:

    A bit of an “out there” theory but I’ll see what you guys make of it; I know from a team insider that Red Bull spent considerable time and effort in 2009 investigating a ‘KERS-lite’ package whereby the drivers would have a lightweight single use KERS for use off of the startline only. It would have been lightweight as none of the recharging mechanisms would have been installed as you can run the system fully charged in the pitlane before heading to the grid. The weight and COG benefits from this approach outweighed the benefits from running full KERS.
    They ultimately didn’t end up running this system, but I wonder if this has now been employed by Red Bull for 2011? It would explain why they aren’t using KERS in qually…

    1. James Allen says:

      Dead right – see my post on it

      1. Darren says:

        I must be missing something James. Where is your post on the Red Bull KERS system?

      2. Tom says:

        You got a link to this post? I can’t seem to find it on the blog?!

      3. Mario says:

        Where is that post again?

    2. Mario says:

      They are certainly very clever. There must be an explanation to why they are a second faster over a single lap?

      I think about 4 tenths of that is Vettel and the rest is down to designers.

    3. Stevie P says:

      Ok so in reality, Red Bull’s KERS is not KERS as it’s a one (and only once!) trick pony. It won’t capture (sorry, recover) any braking energy… thus it’s a start-line traction control or a start-line launch system. Hmmmmm!?!?! Would seem RBR have found a cheeky little loophole.

    4. OldIron says:

      Clever idea; I wonder why they can’t use it for one hot lap in qualifying though?

      It could be pre-charged beforehand (maybe even between qualifying sessions), and therefore usable once – the final Q3 run.

      1. njoy says:

        Maybe because if he uses it in qualy then they might not have a chance to recharge it before the race?

  37. DK says:

    It looks like the packing order has not changed much compared to last year. Probably McLaren has gone one up on Ferrari, and the red cars seems to struggle in colder weather.

    Michael and Massa still looks the same, struggling and both got beaten by their teammates.

    I have a feeling however things will be quite different tomorrow. Pirelli certainly is more punishing for those who lock up braking.

    Now we have seen DRS working in quali, I predict it will cause a lot of drama tomorrow !!

  38. sender says:

    It was said that there will be varying strategies for the third part of qualifying and consequently for the first part of the race and maybe even the whole race (regarding the tyres which to use in Q3 and the first stint in the race).
    Well, almost nothing of that happened. Of course, it will depend from circuit to circuit but it was also said that the beginning of season it will be more unpredictable. Let’s see what happens tomorrow and in the next races.

  39. Lilla My says:

    I’m really disappointed with Ferrari. But as they’ve been lately repeating over and over again that Q isn’t as important this year, I hope their race pace will be much better. And I know this is just first qualifying, first race, first everything, but Massa was just all over the place today and didn’t really look good… I hope he puts himself together and fast.
    Re Red Bull – you have to give it to Vettel – brilliant job (McLaren boys too), though I hope it’s not an ominous forecast of the whole season.

    Did something happen to Heidfeld or his car? He doesn’t seem a kind of driver that should be really knocked out in Q1, especially having such a car (Petrov was a pleasant surprise).

  40. RickeeBoy says:

    Noooooooooooooooo

    On the BBC Iplayer Web site under the 2011 Australian Grand Prix – Qualifying its says ….

    Jake Humphrey presents coverage of qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix. Jonathan Legard and Martin Brundle commentate on proceedings.

    Please Nooooooooooooooo

    1. The BBC are re-using a lot of stock content from last year for bits of this years website (look at the team and driver profiles for example) this must have been one that slipped through the update-net. Brundle and Coulthard commentate. But yes, I’m afraid Jake is still there. One step at a time…

      1. Steve says:

        Personally, I think Jake Humphrey is the best front man F1′s had for years. Certainly miles better than Jim Rosenthal.

  41. Richard Hoyland says:

    James, Is that right that the McLaren KERS is worth 2 tenths whereas the Red Bull is worth 4?

    1. Anil says:

      huh? They are all worth the same time over a lap, they provide the same hp over 7 seconds afterall! What made you think that?

      1. Richard Hoyland says:

        Well if you read James’ article you would see that he mentions Vettel left 4/10ths in his pocket whereas Hamilton lost 2/10ths, which is why I was puzzled. James later explained that Hamilton only lost KERS for half a lap.

  42. Yo! F1 says:

    Only 1 FREAKING DAY! 1 DAY to setup a car with a totally different new package and we are less than a second off Redbulls and on front row. So the question really is How close will we have been have we had all those winter test months to test and simulate this same package…My guess is we’ll be right up there with redbull long before europe

    1. StallionGP F1 says:

      What you forget now is maclaren would be tryna catch redbull while they have no updates on thier car yet

  43. Mario says:

    What’s with Heidfeld?

    If Petrov starts sixth and we know him more or less, then what on earth Heidfeld has done wrong?

    One thing for sure, he cannot afford to repeat that sort of performance.

    1. Ben says:

      His KERS din not work and he had traffic. Bad luck, but he should have set his time earlier.

  44. Martin P says:

    Re Red Bull not using KERS today – Is it possible they could have chosen not to install on this circuit and take the benefits of moving ballast around? Would they be able to keep it a secret if they hadn’t installed?

  45. Damian J says:

    So after all the flak Martin Whitmarsh received from punters on this website and he was correct afterall. It was Ferrari and Alonso that were doing all the spin?

  46. raffamuffin says:

    I agree with some of the other posters here, but would like to add-

    If Jenson has got in front of Lewis by that margin, I’m sure the slant of this story might have been a little different. Lewis outqualified Jenson, pure and simple by a large margin in a car that was not working to its full potential.

    In 2009, those praising Button said – yes, Brawn had the best car, but Button had to utilise it and use his talent to make the most of it… Same with Lewis here, Webber failed to make the most of the equipment at his disposal. But Lewis made the best of the equipment available to him, and for that he deserves credit.

    In the race it might turn out to be different, more of Jenson’s smooth driving style saving the day or whatever, but for today Lewis outclassed Jenson, simple.

    1. Craig D says:

      Where in the story or (in the comments) was Lewis’ performance disputed/ uncredited?! Lewis outperformed Jenson, sure. So why the need to write a seemingly paranoid post on Hamilton oneupmanship?

      Regarding the race, I think Ferrari will perform better in the race, and I hope Hamilton can challenge Vettel but I think he’ll run and hide!

      1. raffamuffin says:

        No, it was just the suggestion that it was only because Webber underperformed. I just thought that although Webber failed to make the most of his equipment, Lewis still had to make the most of his car to get to 2nd. After all, Jenson was 4th in quali with that same opportunity to take advantage of webber’s error. I guess in someway it is correct to say that Lewis nor Jenson would have stood a chance at 2nd if Webber had been on it. I can understand why people might interpret it in the way I initially did.

        I am just very grateful that McLaren have managed to turn around the car before the season has begun, although there is a hell of a lot of work to do.

        As much as Lewis says he has learnt otherwise, I just hope him and Vettel make it through the first corner and lap so we can have an exciting race at the front. The mix of Kers and arw makes tomorrows race really all the more exciting. I’m hoping Ferrari and Mercedes can really catch up and have better race pace than quali suggests. Bring it on!!

    2. David Jones says:

      Well said, he can only maximise the potential of the car he has. In fact he usually exceeds it, but doesn’t seem to get the recognition

  47. David Ryan says:

    Vettel and Red Bull looking pretty ominous again – although I’m not sure why he dropped in a lyric from a Ke$ha song on the radio (“We are who we are”?), that’ll certainly give the other designers on the grid a few sleepless nights. McLaren have certainly pulled one out of the bag in getting the car back on form, but Ferrari seem to have gone the opposite way – that car does not look like it has much grip at all, as perhaps Massa demonstrated in embarrassing fashion. 1.4s off the pace is certainly not what Alonso would have wanted to see, and much as they talk about race pace being better I’m not convinced. Petrov has certainly turned heads with that Q3 performance and Kobayashi has hit the ground running as well, but disappointing drive for Schumacher and awful days for Williams, Heidfeld and of course Hispania.

    On the subject of Hispania, is it just me or are they using last year’s nosecone and front wing again rather than the one they had at launch? The new wing looks a hell of a lot better than last year’s so I don’t see why they’d leave that at home, unless they really are using this as a test session and trying to get some aero data. In any event, it looks like being a very tough start of the season for them.

    1. Philip says:

      Re. Hispania – I can’t remember the source, but it’s posted somewhere reputable that the new wing failed its crash test.

      Fair play to them, I thought. Getting those times straight out of the box from an obviously underdeveloped car run by a team with no visible budget seems to me like as much as they could have hoped to do. I think Geoff Willis has made bricks without straw. How much more have Virgin spent, and to what effect?

      1. ACB says:

        Despite the 107% rule DQ pulling those times with what, seven laps total on the chassis? With the correct nose and some set up time they will probably make the cut.

    2. Flakey says:

      They had to use last years nose cone, because their 2011 nose cone, and front wings, failed the crash tests.

    3. ACB says:

      They are using last year’s nose because the new one didn’t pass the crash test. Yes, a tough start, and I can see why none of the other teams will have too much pity on them this time around. Last year with Bruno Senna at the wheel the F110 finished Q1 at Melbourne with a time of 1.30.526 So the fact is they’ve gotten worse.

  48. Oliver says:

    I still dont understand that when Jenson outqualifies Lewis, everyone goes crazy. But when Lewis out qualifies Jenson by 4 tenths without the use of KERS, nobody says anything, even though thats a big acheivment.

    If Jenson did that to Lewis, the BBC, Jake and his cronies would be going absolutely crazy!

    1. TheLegend says:

      Simply because Lewis outqualifying Jenson is normal, but not the other way. Same happens with Fernando-Felipe or last year Robert-Vitaly.

    2. frosty says:

      Lewis did have KERS, just for not the whole lap.

    3. Nando says:

      It should be obvious. Lewis is the faster driver over a single-lap thus it’s a surprise if Button goes 4-tenths faster. If Lewis is the faster driver it’s just what you’d expected.

    4. Paul Kirk says:

      Maybe Jenson has more fans/suporters than Lewis!
      PK.

  49. Andrew says:

    Hi James

    I have been staying in Melbourne for the last 3 months and have been looking forward to the GP here.

    I was very happy to see you performing a large role on TV here and I was amazed to see that the TV here covered the track from 12pm until the last race today – much better than the coverage in the UK.

    While of course we all miss you in the BBC commentator role I have to say that the Brundle / Coulthard performance was great – flowing and informed.

    Love the site, your TV work in Australia and F1 in general, keep up the work we all love it.

    I will be at the track Sunday for the race and I think this will be a great season – again!!

  50. Andy K says:

    Hi James, love the website, you post far better insights into Formula 1 than any other blogger.

    Just wondering why in this article you say Vettel not using KERs cost him 4/10ths per lap, but Hamilton not using KERs only cost him 2/10ths?

    Is the Red Bull KERs system better than the McLaren/Mercedes one, because my understanding is that the Mercedes-developed KERs is the best around?

    Thanks, Andy

    1. James Allen says:

      Ham only had it for half a lap

      1. Andy K says:

        Ahh I didn’t know that. Thanks a lot.

      2. David Jones says:

        James, but if they have KERs light, would they really have this much lap gain in comparison to a full Mercedes / Mclaren version?

  51. Yo! F1 says:

    James Allen, you and your selective journalism.

    Vettel gets the praise for putting a car that a monkey should put be able to put on pole on top. Whereas Hamilton did just a “good job” for not only splitting the redbulls but outqualifying his team mate by 6 tenths with a failed KERS system, oh dear!

    I have seen similar criticism of you in regards to Hamilton and have mostly just ignored it but common!!

    1. James Allen says:

      Don’t make me laugh

      1. Yo! F1 says:

        Looks like I just did. It’s funny all these so called expert pundits praise Vettel to the heavens as if the public is not smart enough to figure out it’s more down to the car being extraordinary than the genius that is Vettel

        So called fastest driver when there has been no proof whatsoever to that claim.

        (1) Has he had any WDC as a team mate in order to actually validate his pace compared to a Alonso/Hamilton calibre?, NO!

        (2) Has he ever been that spectacular coming out of youth ranks as a Hulkenburg/Hamilton, NO!

        (3) Whom has been his toughest measure of how fast he in terms of team mates, WEBBER???

        (4) Has Webber been seen as being spectacular in his whole career, NO! Then why was he only losing to Seb half the time by less than a tenth???! lol

        (5) Is Vettel in the fastest car by a significant margin for 2 years running, YES!

        (6) Should ‘MOST’ top drivers stick that car on Pole more often than not like Seb. YES!

        Can we now dim down the praise and stop acting like this guy Seb “The most unproven fastest guy on the grid” is anything more than very good

        I won’t even go into his race craft and judgment as this is about his speed.

        Now for some tea!

      2. David Jones says:

        I totally agree with Yo F1. We are not trying to make yuo laugh, just pointing out our observations

      3. Neil says:

        I think you have the full set now James?

        I mean, I’ve seen you accused of being pro-Hamilton, pro-Button, pro-Schumacher, pro-Alonso, not to mention pro-Ferrari. And pro- pretty much all the rest.

        You must be biased towards everyone!

        Oh, hang on, that would be another definition of “balanced” and “fair” ;-)

        Neil.

      4. James Allen says:

        That’s right. “Biased towards everyone” – it all comes full circle!!

    2. John says:

      What is with all the Hamilton fans getting their knickers in bunch? I didn’t take anything from James’ point, which was clearly that the Red Bulls should have been P1 and P2. This is obvious because they have a distinct speed advantage. Hamilton isn’t the golden child of F1…Newey is. Get over it.

    3. Azri says:

      You obviously just started following James’ blog?

    4. Craig D says:

      A comment like that gives Hamilton fans a bad name.

      1. Yo! F1 says:

        Like what? Please tell me a point in those comment tha was not a fact in relation to Vettel, i’m waiting!!!

    5. pallys says:

      I agree with YoF1.
      I just learn to ignore it, end of the day Lewis does the talking on the track and everyone has an “opinion”.

      Like 2010, splitting RBR’s will be massive achievements this year. A special moment in itself because in quali that RBR is on another planet.

      I’m annoyed “Jenson NoBalance Button” was not there to pick up from Webber’s struggles. If McLaren want to challenge for WCC Button needs to sharpen up his game.

    6. Marc B says:

      @ Yo F1 mate leave James alone he is one of the most balanced of todays F1 reporters and reports the facts after careful consideration and using his F1 contacts. Without doubt one of the best of his generation!

    7. Coral says:

      I agree totally. Lewis never gets the credit he deserves. I don’t know what more he has to do really. If it had been Button who had qualified on the front row, you can bet that he would have been lauded to the high heavens. Poor Lewis :(

    8. AlexD says:

      I really need to say it. Why are you Picking on Allen? How obsessed one should be to read his words like this? I am a Ferrari fan and I see nothing wrong in the way he writes…
      People see what they want to see…..and I think you just expect him to write bad about Hamilton and you try to see it in every post. Funny…

      1. James Allen says:

        “People see what they want to see” – the truest words posted here to date. I provide objective analysis. People view it through their own prisms

      2. Yo! F1 says:

        The “people see what they want to see” comment obviously does not apply to me because all the points I made in that list above are known facts not opinions.

        Sorry to come strong on you but I get frustrated with a lot of pundits treating us like we can’t see what they see or are less knowledgable. It’s like they are always trying to take away from Hamiltons performance.

        The comment about him (Hamilton) doing just a “good job” and in the next sentence take it away from him saying it’s down to Webbers underperformance than anything else. It was a blistering lap to have faulty KERS with compromised brake bias to not only outqualify a redbull but to beat his team mate by 0.5sec?? who had fully functioning KERS, that’s MEGA by any standards

        Also, the old ridiculous tired excuse used by yourself and the BBC crew about Button(great driver he is) being slower than Hamilton because he’s unhappy with the balance. Again, this just takes away credit as to how good/how fast Hamilton was in that session. Why is it soo heavy in the mouth for all of you to just admit he lost to a faster driver, Period.

      3. F1Fan4Life says:

        Is there a prism to prevent me from seeing Vettel waving his finger at the end of every race this season? I don’t know if i can take it!

      4. Philip says:

        James,

        Thanks for all your efforts here.

        I think you had it right the first time (“Don’t make me laugh”)

        Please, have a laugh and let it go. I don’t think for a moment that they mean to be trolls, but its the same dynamic. The more you feed them, the bigger they grow. Joe Saward’s been so hacked off a few times recently he’s threatened to jack it in. Please don’t go down the same road.

        Most of us here appreciate that you’re bringing a unique and personal insight here, and are happy to take what’s offered and accept that we’ll never agree with all of it.

        Anyway, going to be a cracking season, isn’t it?

  52. irish con says:

    i dont understand why ferrari with kers and the rear wing moving this year are still way slower than last year. i no they have lost downforce but still the kers and wing is worth up to a second a lap in qualifying. but well done redbull and vettel. will be hard to beat.

    1. TheLegend says:

      They had a wrong set up and many problems for warm up the tyres. They say that cost them more than half a second. But still slower with that.

  53. F1Fan4Life says:

    Hi James,
    I am just astounded at how good Adrian Newey is. I know everyone is praising Red Bull in general but I really believe it is primarily him. This guy should be the highest paid man in F1…apart from Bernie I suppose. How on earth did two huge teams with massive budgets (Mclaren/Ferrari) allow a competitor to just come in and destroy them on all performance fronts, technically speaking? Not only that, but Red Bull even seem to be more creative while winning.

    Realistically, Red Bull is a drinks company. Mclaren and Ferrari have the majority of big players in their teams. Red Bull comes along and with Newey are able to leave them in the dust. If i’m not mistaken, the Renault engine is supposed to be less powerful than the engines in the Mclaren and Ferrari. Despite that, they have staggering dominance in qualifying.

    Last year Ferrari in particular were saying that they would focus on race pace. This year, Ferrari look to be one of the few teams that has lost ground on the competition. Mclaren, Mercedes and Renault look to have maintained pace with the Bulls, some even have closed the gap, but Ferrari have actually gone backwards.

    1. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

      I agree.

      I don’t know why, but I am far more impressed with Newey’s genius and not too convinced by Vettel’s “brilliance”.

      Put Vettel in a P7/8 car and I doubt he would be hauling the car up the grid. He is only comfortable at the very front.

  54. Fuller says:

    Gotta wonder what kubica could have done! 4th? 3rd? Maybe even 2nd! Such a shame!

  55. Michael S says:

    WOW.. What dominance… Vettel is a beast and I dare anyone to tell me he is not the fastest man in F1… to beat your own teammate by a second and to beat the field by nearly as much…
    just hope thier KERS works

    1. Paul Kirk says:

      Yeah, he is the “fastest man in F1″, but only because he’s in the fastest car!
      PK.

  56. wolf says:

    James do you have any word on how the qualifying tyres look?

  57. jack_faith says:

    You have to wonder where Kubica would be in the mix. Such a shame for him to be watching from his bed. And what happened with Heidfeld? Really, if that continues they should be looking at Senna. Also, Webber can’t carry on like that or Red Bull will seriously consider replacing him with Ricciardo (clearly a future star).

    I look forward to seeing how Red Bull’s kers works from the start. Could be fun. Also, let’s not forget how fast Red Bull’s quali pace was last year. I don’t think they have the championship sowed up so easily based just on this pace.

    1. James Allen says:

      In that car.. I think Kubica could have challenged Button today for P4

  58. Ross says:

    Anyone else surprised Luizzi got within two seconds off the Virgin car. Luizzi did maybe 10 laps compared to Virgins entire winter proggrame. Looks like once they get the car running and get to know it I’d wager it will be quicker than Virgin.

  59. Andy c says:

    Perhaps Luca night be offering a 250gto lm and $30m a season next time he calls Adrian newey.

    Poor from Ferrari today. I expect their race pace to be better.

    I don’t understand why felipe is so far back. I hope he is able to have a good season this year. He’s definitely fast (or used to be)

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      Ferrari were absolutely catastrophic today. I already mentioned that the car had absolutely no innovations whatsoever

      - pushrod rear suspension
      - packaging much bigger than RedBull at the back mainly

      what strikes me though is that Alonso kept feeling positive during testing and even after qualies today. Is it a one off for Ferrari or the problem is bigger. We’ll be settled in a month or so.

      If the car is not good, Dominicali won’t be here next year.

    2. Damian J says:

      As Jake Humphrey said about Ferrari’s strategy during qualifying, “If you can’t beat them, poach them!”

      That does seem to be their strategy because they are not coming up with any innovative ideas of their own. Far easier to go on a buying spree with the many millions they get more than any other F1 team.

  60. goferet says:

    Okay from what I saw of the senior statesmen of F1 i.e. Rubens, Michael & Nick, I believe it’s time they swallowed their egos, hung up their helmets & gave some poor souls a chance at Formula 1 – Hulkenburg, anyone?

    As for Vettel, yes I was truly impressed & I guess it’s true what they say in that, he’s the baby Schumi – He seems to only need one lap to nail pole

    Now Vettel for victory, I doubt that for Australia usually doesn’t favour the pole guy & worse, Vettel won the last two races of the previous season & worse still, Vettel has only finished the Australia Grand Prix – ONCE – in 13th place LOL

    I expect him to lead the race by turn 1 for he usually employees ruthless maneuvers when Hammy is behind him at the start

    I believe Webber is still suffering from last year’s heart break so he sort of no longer believes he can beat Sebastian
    let alone EVER win the world championship

    As for Alonso… Prost, left Ferrari in 1991 because they handed him a dog of a car (look out for the toys)

    P.s.
    Hmm, I do not believe Hammy has ever won from P2

    1. zombie says:

      I was following the 3rd practice very closely and 3 cars among top 5 teams looked extremely nervous – the 2 Ferraris and Michael’s Mercedes. Both the Ferraris had backend step out of the line almost on every corner, it is a miracle they made it to top 10. It’ll take an almighty effort to make this dog of a car a championship winner. I’ve said this before, and i’ll say this again,Alonso is no Schumi, and he won’t toil endlessly for half a decade to make the car competitive. I see him out of Ferrari by 2013 if he cannot win a title by then.

      About Michael, his car definitely looked a lot better in qualifying than it did during P3. But it did appear that it was losing over half a second in sector 2.

      In anycase, the ominous speed of the RedBull makes me believe that we are in for a very one sided championship. But it should be interesting battle lower down as Renault,Ferrari,Mercedes,Sauber,TorroRosso and Williams are all within 0.7s from one another.

  61. Damian J says:

    Great job from McLaren and Martin Whitmarsh.

    1. Damian J says:

      And great to see Ron Dennis back in the McLaren garage!

      1. mtb says:

        I am pretty sure that he has been a regular since Abu Dhabi 2009.

      2. Marc B says:

        I loved the shot on the BBC coverage where Ron Dennis gave Eddie Jordan a piece of humble pie after the amount of stick Eddie was giving Mclaren CLASSIC ; )

      3. Jo Torrent says:

        He missed the cameras and the spotlights

      4. jonrob says:

        Not for some in the team!

      5. Jo Torrent says:

        Not for many outside the team. Some had to leave after the crash gate. I don’t see why others keep staying after the spy gate

      6. jonrob says:

        I think you are missing the point here, Ron promised to go away and play with road cars and run the company, leaving Martin to get on with the racing, a much calmer less tense clearer headed team resulted. Now with Ron back looking over peoples shoulders it will not be long before he cannot resist sticking his oar in.
        BTW who was that terrified looking woman he was with, she looked as if she were being held hostage!

      7. Coral says:

        Yes, McLaren did a really good job to turn things around. And it’s always nice to see Ron Dennis, especially as Lewis usually does well when he is there.

      8. Paul Kirk says:

        Yep, it is good to see Ron back!
        PK.

    2. mtb says:

      Great job indeed – only 3/4 of a second off the pace! ;)

  62. adam h says:

    I cannot tell you as a schuey fan how gutted i feel! watching seb going over the line and doing a 23.5 was unbelieveable! i feel sorry for the rest.
    i agree with james that this RB7 reminded him of the FW14b and F2004!
    Vettel DECIMATED the rest….end of

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      I still can’t understand the gap to Webber. The Aussie has never been half that far from Vettel. It was thousands or hundredths of seconds many times and now almost a second with a couple of shots.

  63. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    Strange absence of Spanish fan postings today!

    McLaren were being slated prior to qualifying with all sorts of allegations against Whitmarch (sic).

    Glad to see McLaren up where they belong. I don’t know why they have become the team for so many to hate.

  64. AlexD says:

    Big disappointment being a Ferrari fan…..another year of catching up….

  65. Rich C says:

    Ok, Newey has to go.

    He must be banned for bringing the other designers in the sport into disrepute.

  66. CF says:

    James, can you give the tifosi some information on how you see Ferrari? You’ve been to winter testing and seen their pace there compared to their pace here.

    Thanks.

    1. James Allen says:

      A bit disappointing, clearly. The car is faster than it looked in qualifying.

  67. Michael says:

    In the commentary today it was mentioned that rubber from the new Pirelli tyres comes off as strips rather than the marbles that used to litter the track. What I want to know is will this make it easier for cars that go off the racing line? I very much hope so as I think this has played a significant (though not decisive) role in hampering overtaking in recent years.

    Obviously dirty air is still the main culprit though and I’m not convinced the new push-to-pass button really addresses that. If the cars could get within a second of each other through the corners, they wouldn’t need help overtaking on the straights. What we really need is some device that only generates downforce in dirty air!

    1. Paul Kirk says:

      Or reduce the size of the dirty air envelope by removing the wings and increasing the ground efects!
      PK.

  68. Dren says:

    Looks like several teams had issues getting temperature into the tires. I expect Ferrari and Mercedes to be much closer to the front next race.

  69. BBT says:

    Glad you reply to that James, I been reading lots of those misinformed comments about Mclaren all over the web. Anyone that saw the handling of the Mclaren in testing knows they were in serious trouble before ditching the complicated exhaust system,not sand bagging.

  70. devilsadvocate says:

    James, re the redbull wing flexing, I noticed from many rear shots in quali, the RB7 has a striking amount of rake, moreso than most other cars I saw. Is this what allows the wing to hover so low? and at what point do you start losing effect from the diffuser from having it so high off the ground?

  71. Bill Johnson says:

    To Richard Branson re the Virgin Team:

    Here in the states, there’s a saying about mechanics. I’ll let you in on it in a moment.
    (To everyone else at the Virgin Team, this is NOT meant as a slag on you, but on Branson)

    Hey, Richard – pay peanuts, get monkeys.

    It costs $ to get off the back row. Fund your team, or find another advertising venue.

  72. TheLegend says:

    James, I’ve heard about rain possibility during the race, and maybe some teams have prepared their set up thinkin on that. ¿Is that correct? Nowhere i’ve looked expects rain for tomorrow.

    1. James Allen says:

      Forecast is 21 degrees morning drizzle, clear this afternoon

  73. Nesto says:

    I’m amazed none of the sites post sector times. Doesn’t anyone have them ??? Its similar to only posting the fastest times from testing/practice and not focusing on laptimes during simulated stints.

  74. zombie says:

    James, if you bump into Jean Todt, can you please ask him why on earth are HRT/Virgin even in this sport? They are a disgrace and have no business to be in F1, and lack the sincerity and seriousness the sport merits. Narain Karthikeyan’s lap in a clearly sick sounding car was painful to watch. Poor sod kept blocking cars to the ire of many drivers. TATA ( The Indian Steel and auto giant), could have saved tons of money by backing Force-India instead.

    1. James Allen says:

      Seeing him end of next week

    2. Jo Torrent says:

      TODT didn’t select them to join F1 and he doesn’t have the rights to ditch them and luckily he doesn’t. Imagine that the FIA has the right to tell any team that their time is up in F1 or any other category.

      There must be better selection procedures and harsher rules to keep competing, that’s it.

    3. Paul Kirk says:

      Hay Zombie, you’re being a bit tough on the teams at the back!!! You should be welcoming them and wishing them luck!!! I’m glad they’re there, in fact if RB or Virgin were to leave F1 right now, I’m not sure which team I’d miss the most. Actually, I’d probably miss Virgin the most!
      PK.

      1. zombie says:

        I welcome teams like Super Aguri who fight like a Samurai and die a ‘Seppuku’ when they fail! Not HRT/Virgin who are there to take up slots and nothing else. HRT’s disgraceful behavior of not attending a single pre-season test, turning up in Melbourne to do 4 laps in a ironically stickered ‘This Could be You’ car defies any logic! What F1 needs are more teams like Aguri who race with passion, and not HRTs/Virgins.

  75. Julian Chan says:

    I think that was the fastest lap ever at Albert Park… pretty incredible.

  76. sammy says:

    Ferrari is best on racepace, you will see guys.
    Fingers crossed for a great race!

  77. auski says:

    watching Lotus through last 2 corners and onto the pit striaght. They kept having to lift while front running teams did not.
    Its 7.45am here in mebourne. Same conditions as yesterday. Red cars in trouble.

  78. Dan says:

    To be honest, I can’t be bothered watching a season of F1 where one of the cars is so obviously breaking a rule and we hear no comments from the scrutineers and officials. What’s the point? Watching F1 live here involves a lot of late nights and if no one is even going to attempt to enforce the rules, then there’s no real point any more.

  79. Jo Torrent says:

    James,

    can you ask the teams what would the lap time be without the DRS deployed in qualies. I think that the DRS is the main factor in having quali times this quick.

    1. James Allen says:

      DRS is worth 8/10ths per lap – but that is balanced out by the extra 20kg the KERS weighs.

  80. Rekha says:

    Race Date- March 27 2011
    My commentary on the race:
    1. Great start-finish performance from Vettel
    2. Great performance from Petrov, seems to me the car is really refined and great.
    3. Obstensious performance from Rubens Barrichello spolit the chances of Rosberg gaining some points.
    4. Mercedes team under great presssure to perform and maybe cracking under it.
    5. McLaren cars dint seem to be reliable but since they made till the end, no comments.
    6. Pirelli tyres seem to eb the issue – no verdict on them yet.
    7. Button passes Massa on Lap 12- awesome pull that was.

  81. Ben says:

    James,

    When you see Jean Todt can you ask him why Red bull are being allowed to run a wing that is clearly in contravention of the laws ie the end plate is clearly scraping along the floor when at high speed and at the regulation height at low speed. So there is clear movement which is strictly forbidden by the rules? There is also precedent with the FIA using video evidence to enforce the rules. I remember mclaren being asked to put a stay on the front wing to prevent the beam wing from flexing (it had been seen to do this on the onboard shot, no load testing introduced). I don’t see why the FIA aren’t acting on all the evidence they’ve been shown. See below for more.

    http://forums.autosport.com/index.php?showtopic=145062&st=440&start=440

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