Bahrain GP qualifying: Valtteri Bottas beats Lewis Hamilton to pole
Valtteri Bottas claimed his first Formula 1 pole position by edging out Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in a tight Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying battle.
Hamilton had taken pole for each of the first two F1 races of 2017 and led the way again through Q1, Q2 and the initial runs in Q3 at Sakhir, but Bottas hit top spot on his final run with a lap of 1m28.769s.
Hamilton dropped a chunk of time in the second sector of his final lap, and also had an oversteer moment at the final corner, so failed to improve. He ended up second fastest by just 0.023 seconds.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was almost half a second further back in third, suggesting he "tried a bit too hard" on his final Q3 run, which was slower than his first.
Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull split the two Ferraris by setting the fourth fastest time on his final run, just 0.022s clear of Kimi Raikkonen.
Max Verstappen was a tenth further back in the second Red Bull, while works Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg beat Felipe Massa’s Williams to the seventh fastest time, with a lap that was within two tenths of Verstappen’s.
Romain Grosjean again got the Haas team into Q3, ending up eighth fastest, well down on Massa and three tenths clear of Jolyon Palmer’s Renault.
Palmer made Q3 for the first time in his F1 career, but eventually qualified over 1.2s down on Renault team-mate Hulkenberg.
Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat missed out on making the top-10 shootout by less than half a tenth of a second, running wide at the final corner and failing to improve on his final Q2 run.
Lance Stroll made only one run after his Williams spent a long period receiving adjustments in the garage and he ended up only 12th fastest.
Returnee Pascal Wehrlein qualified a brilliant 13th in the Sauber, on a track he starred at last season for Manor, ahead of the Force India of fellow Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon, and the McLaren-Honda of Fernando Alonso, who didn’t set a time in Q2 after "we broke the power unit".
Alonso scraped his McLaren-Honda into Q2 thanks to the Toro Rosso of fellow Spaniard Carlos Sainz Jr stopping at the final corner in the dying moments of Q1.
This relegated Sainz to 16th thanks to rivals earlier improving their times, and it also forced Sergio Perez to back off while on a hot lap in his Force India.
Perez still improved by nearly four tenths of a second, but this still left him down in 18th place, 0.005s behind the second McLaren-Honda of Stoffel Vandoorne, who had outpaced Alonso fractionally during the initial runs in Q1.
Marcus Ericsson was only 19th quickest, over half a second slower than Sauber team-mate Wehrlein, while Haas’s Kevin Magnussen qualified slowest of all after aborting his final flying lap for the yellow flags displayed for Sainz’s stricken Toro Rosso.
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m29.545s||0.776s|
|6||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m29.687s||0.918s|
|11||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m30.923s||–|
|14||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m31.684s||–|
|16||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m32.118s||–|
|18||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m32.318s||–|
Bahrain Grand Prix: Max Verstappen sets practice pace for Red Bull
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen set the pace in the final free practice session for Formula 1’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
Verstappen left it late to put in the fastest time of 1m32.194s using super-soft Pirellis and ended the session 0.110 seconds ahead of the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton.
With the track temperature at the start of the session so high, most opted to hang back for potentially slightly cooler conditions that would be closer to those for the evening qualifying session.
At the halfway mark of the 60-minute session, Toro Rosso pairing Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr held first and second place.
Valtteri Bottas was set to knock Kvyat off top spot when he headed out on super-softs, but he locked up and ran off the circuit at the last corner, ruining his lap.
Instead, Felipe Massa put his Williams fastest with a 1m32.801s, only to be relegated to second by soft-shod Verstappen.
Romain Grosjean then lost the rear of his Haas through Turn 4, spinning into the barrier and losing his nose.
The session was red-flagged, but the delay was only five minutes as Grosjean recovered to the pits without assistance.
Shortly after the restart, Kimi Raikkonen went fastest with a 1m32.785s, despite running wide at the final corner, before being relegated to second by Bottas.
Vettel was also out on super-softs, but his first lap was only good enough for fourth after he ran wide exiting Turn 7 before setting what was then the fastest time of the session at his second attempt.
Red Bull held back for much of the session and completed few laps, but both Verstappen and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo headed out again in the closing stages.
This allowed Verstappen to go fastest with two-and-a-half minutes remaining, albeit with Hamilton behind him on track and showing strong pace.
But Hamilton ran a little wide at the final corner and could not beat Verstappen despite showing good pace in the first two sectors.
Ricciardo was 0.615s slower than Verstappen’s pace, slotting into seventh place behind Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen and Massa.
Nico Hulkenberg again showed well in the Renault, lapping 0.739s off the pace to take eighth ahead of Sainz and Kvyat.
Fernando Alonso was the faster of the McLarens in 12th, 1.550s from Vettel and just six thousandths slower than Force India driver Sergio Perez, with Sauber returnee Pascal Wehrlein just behind them.
Grosjean did manage to return to the track after his crash, but ended up 18th and seven thousandths slower than team-mate Kevin Magnussen.
PRACTICE THREE TIMES:
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m32.194s||–||8|
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m32.809s||0.615s||8|
|9||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m33.604s||1.410s||18|
|10||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m33.744s||1.550s||11|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m33.916s||1.722s||14|
|16||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m34.064s||1.870s||17|
Gran Premio del Bahrain – “Bravi ragazzi, ottimo lavoro”
Kimi contento che la squadra abbia riparato la macchina per la P2
“E’ davvero presto per dire come potremo andare qui, e oggi le condizioni sono state difficili. Abbiamo avuto un problema che ci ha fermato verso l’inizio della prima sessione: niente a che vedere con il motore, ma piuttosto nella zona del turbo. I ragazzi sono stati molto bravi a riparare il danno e a essere pronti per la seconda sessione. Poteva essere una giornata un po’ migliore, ma è andata così. Questa pista mi piace, ma non è che ci sia qualcosa di più ‘speciale’ rispetto ad altri circuiti. Naturalmente fa molto caldo e questo può creare difficoltà con le gomme. Come al solito al venerdì, ci sarà tanto da fare per essere pronti domani.
Ferrari hopes to salvage engine from Raikkonen’s Bahrain failure
Ferrari is hopeful it can salvage the engine that stopped Kimi Raikkonen on track during the opening Formula 1 free practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Raikkonen pulled over to the side of the track with smoke coming from the back of his car in FP1, having been ordered by his team to slowly make his way back to the pits.
Ferrari later said it was a turbo problem that stopped him, and it changed the internal combustion engine, turbo and MGU-H on his car for FP2.
"We had a power unit issue with Kimi – it was quite obvious," said Ferrari technical director Mattia Binotto.
"We changed it for the afternoon just as a precaution, it was important for us to make sure Kimi could run the afternoon trouble-free.
"What happened is still to be fully understood. We analysed all the parts and hopefully all the elements of the power unit can be used again once they are sorted out."
Raikkonen, who was fourth fastest when he did get out in practice two, played down the significance of the problem in the first session.
"It was nothing to do with the engine, it was some control issue with the turbo," he said.
"It stopped us in the early part of practice so the guys did a good job to fix the car and be ready for second practice.
"It could have been better but that’s how it goes."
F1 Bahrain GP: Ferrari’s Vettel fastest again in second session
Sebastian Vettel topped the second free practice session for Formula 1’s Bahrain Grand Prix, although what he called a "complete shutdown" of his Ferrari cost him running.
Vettel had earlier set the pace in first free practice and, after bolting on a set of fresh super-soft Pirellis shortly before the half-hour mark, set a time of 1m31.310s to top the floodlit second session.
This was despite saying he struggled with the brakes during the second half of the lap.
But early on in what was expected to be a long run to evaluate race performance, Vettel’s car suffered what he called a "complete shutdown" over the radio.
Initially stuck in fourth gear and without power, he leaned forward to hit the neutral button in front of the cockpit.
That allowed the Ferrari to freewheel and was able to roll around the final corner before pulling over short of the pit entry after running out of momentum.
He was then given a push by marshals into the pit entry under yellow flags, which meant he could be recovered to the Ferrari pit with just over 35 minutes remaining.
Vettel returned to the track shortly afterwards, although he ultimately lost just over 15 minutes of running in the 90-minute session.
By then, the leading drivers had all completed their qualifying simulations, with Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas slotting into second place by 0.041 seconds shortly after Vettel went top.
Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo was third fastest and only 0.066s off Vettel.
Kimi Raikkonen was a tenth further back in the other Ferrari having had a new engine, MGU-H and turbo fitted after his problem in the first session.
Lewis Hamilton was only fifth in the other Mercedes, but his fastest lap was set on his third attempt at a qualifying simulation and left him 0.284s off the pace.
He aborted his first attempt and backed off after a big oversteer moment in Turn 1, and on his second try he ran off the track at Turn 10 after locking up trying to get around Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault.
Hamilton was unhappy with Hulkenberg being in the way while on a slow lap, saying "these drivers are just so dangerous," over the radio. The stewards will investigate the incident after the session.
Hulkenberg ended up sixth fastest and just 0.573s off the pace, having set his time shortly before the incident.
That put him ahead of Felipe Massa and Max Verstappen, the latter suffering a floor problem that interrupted his running and compromised his ultimate pace.
Romain Grosjean and Daniil Kvyat rounded out the top 10, which was covered by 1.4s.
Fernando Alonso was the quicker of the McLarens in 15th, 1.587s off the pace, but team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne had a late start to the session.
After suffering an MGU-H problem in Friday’s first session, McLaren opted to change his whole power unit – except for the battery and control electronics – to save time and he was able to get on track shortly after the halfway mark.
Vandoorne ended up slowest, having focused on long-run evaluation rather than going for lap times.
That put him just behind Carlos Sainz Jr, who pulled off at the end of the back straight after just 15 minutes with smoke emerging from his car, and Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein, who is returning to F1 action after missing the Australian and Chinese GPs and completed 29 laps.
PRACTICE TWO RESULTS:
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m31.376s||0.066s||28|
|8||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m32.245s||0.935s||18|
|10||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m32.707s||1.397s||35|
|12||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m32.875s||1.565s||38|
|15||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m33.319s||2.009s||34|
|18||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m34.072s||2.762s||5|
Bahrain GP FP1: Sebastian Vettel fastest ahead of Red Bull drivers
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel topped the first Formula 1 free practice session for the 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix.
While Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was slowest after stopping on his seventh lap with smoke coming out of the rear of the car thanks to a problem the team suspected was related to high engine temperature, Vettel had no such trouble.
Vettel’s best time of 1m32.697s, set with 31 minutes of the session remaining, was enough to guarantee top spot by four-tenths of a second ahead of Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo.
During the early running with each driver using their first set of tyres, which can only be used during the first 40 minutes, Valtteri Bottas was fastest for Mercedes after setting a time of 1m35.002s.
That put him 1.077s faster than Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr, as the pair were the only drivers to opt for the soft Pirellis for their first sets.
Hamilton was the quickest of those who used mediums for their early running, 1.7s slower than Bottas, but he was the first of them to switch to softs.
This allowed him to hit top spot 37 minutes into the session with a lap of 1m34.636s, as none of his leading rivals took a second set of tyres so early.
As the rest of the field switched to softs, Williams driver Lance Stroll, with a 1m34.895s, and then Force India’s Sergio Perez, with a 1m34.322s, both had stints at the top of the timesheets.
Vettel, who was fourth fastest during the first 40 minutes, then banged in his quickest lap of the session to take a top spot he would never lose.
Ricciardo and team-mate Max Verstappen slotted into second and third respectively shortly after Vettel set his time, with almost half-a-second separating the Red Bull pair.
Perez’s time was good enough to end the session fourth ahead of Williams driver Felipe Massa, who had jumped ahead of team-mate Stroll moments after the Canadian had been knocked off top spot.
Massa had a dramatic spin at Turn 13 late in the session as a result of a major lock-up thanks to a problem with the brakes, but was able to recover to the pits.
Esteban Ocon was seventh fastest for Force India ahead of Fernando Alonso and Romain Grosjean, with Hamilton ending up the best-placed of the Mercedes drivers down in 10th place.
Daniil Kvyat was 11th fastest despite complaining about understeer, and was just under a tenth faster than Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, who ran wide and off the track at the final corner on his quickest lap of the session.
McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne was 13th, but his session came to a premature end with 21 minutes to go after, according to the Belgian, "the engine stopped".
Bottas, who concentrated on long runs for much of the session, was down in 15th and 2.305s off the pace.
Haas driver Kevin Magnussen and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson were 16th and 17th ahead of Pascal Wehrlein.
The Sauber driver, in an F1 car for the first time since Friday practice at last month’s Australian Grand Prix, completed 23 laps during the session and was only 0.7s off his team-mate.
By the end of the session, Sainz had been shuffled down to 19th after not improving on his early soft-rubber pace, ahead only of Raikkonen.
BAHRAIN FP1 TIMES
|2||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m33.097s||0.400s||22|
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m33.566s||0.869s||23|
|4||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m34.095s||1.398s||22|
|7||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m34.332s||1.635s||23|
|11||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m34.838s||2.141s||13|
|19||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m36.079s||3.382s||16|
Chinese GP qualifying: Lewis Hamilton takes pole position
Lewis Hamilton emerged from another tight Formula 1 qualifying battle with Sebastian Vettel to claim pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix.
Barely more than two tenths of a second covered the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers after the first runs in Q2, with Vettel fractionally ahead of Hamilton, followed by Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen – who eventually went fastest in that segment by doing a second run when the others didn’t.
But Hamilton moved into the ascendency at the start of Q3, leading Vettel by almost two tenths of a second after the first runs despite running wide out of Turn 3 and suffering a snap of oversteer at the exit of Turn 11.
The Mercedes driver improved to a 1m31.678s best on his final run with a cleaner lap, claiming pole by just 0.186 seconds.
Vettel joined Hamilton in the 1m31s on his own final flying lap, but he failed to improve in sector one and lost out. When informed by Ferrari he had missed pole by two tenths, Vettel reckoned "I didn’t have that" time in the car.
Bottas put in an excellent final lap in Q3, but missed out on beating Vettel to the front row by just one thousandth of a second.
Raikkonen fell away in Q3, ending up fourth complaining of understeer, nearly three tenths back from Bottas.
Red Bull reckoned Daniel Ricciardo got everything out of his car in posting the fifth quickest time, nearly 1.5s away from pole but almost half a second clear of Felipe Massa’s Williams.
Nico Hulkenberg was sixth fastest in Q2 and chose to complete his solitary Q3 run at the start of that session instead of the end, but this was still good enough for seventh place for Renault.
Force India’s Sergio Perez was eighth, just ahead of Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso, while rookie Lance Stroll rounded out the top 10 in the second Williams on his first Q3 appearance.
The battle to make it into the top-10 shootout was extremely tight between Stroll, Perez, the two Toro Rossos, and Kevin Magnussen’s Haas.
Carlos Sainz Jr missed the top 10 cut by just 0.060s after failing to improve on his second Q2 run, while Magnussen was only 0.014s further back in 12th.
Fernando Alonso wrung the neck of the McLaren-Honda to make the top-10 in Q1 and eventually qualify 13th fastest, just over two tenths down on the Haas and almost seven tenths clear of Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber.
Sauber unexpectedly got both cars through to Q2, thanks to Antonio Giovinazzi crashing heavily at the final corner just as the chequered flag came out at the end of Q1 – which delayed other drivers who were yet to complete their laps.
The Ferrari third driver took no part in Q2 so was classified 16th, ahead of Romain Grosjean’s Haas, Jolyon Palmer’s Renault, and Esteban Ocon’s Force India, which all had to abort their final flying laps in Q1.
The second McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne was unaffected, but his best lap was not good enough to displace Giovinazzi, so Vandoorne missed the cut by just 0.060s.
Melbourne qualifying star Grosjean had earlier spun exiting the final corner, ruining his first Q1 run, so he wound up only 17th fastest, two tenths behind Vandoorne.
Palmer was 18th fastest and Ocon last, both sandwiching the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, who struggled with a suspected engine problem throughout the session.
Both Grosjean and Palmer are also under investigation by the FIA, for allegedly failing to slow sufficiently under yellow flags at the end of Q1.
CHINESE GP GRID
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m33.033s||1.355s|
|8||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m33.706s||2.028s|
|9||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m33.719s||2.041s|
|11||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m34.150s||2.472s|
|17||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m35.433s||3.755s|
|18||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m35.496s||3.818s|
F1 Chinese Grand Prix: Vettel fastest for Ferrari in free practice 3
Sebastien Vettel set the pace during final Formula 1 practice for the Chinese Grand Prix, heading a Ferrari one-two after Lewis Hamilton made a mistake on his final run.
Vettel ended up just five-hundredths clear of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, setting his benchmark 1m33.336s during a super-soft run midway through the hour-long session.
Hamilton wasted his opportunity to knock Vettel off top spot when he ran wide at the hairpin on his final super-soft run, having set the best first sector time of all and been just two-thousandths of a second slower than the Ferrari driver in the second.
Daniel Ricciardo led the early running, initially on softs before improving to a 1m35.647s using super-softs. This left him the best part of two seconds clear of Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll.
Raikkonen moved the benchmark into the 1m34s bracket right on the halfway point of the session with a 1m34.519s, despite complaining over the radio about a lack of front grip.
At almost the same time Sebastian Vettel made the move to the super-softs, taking more than a second out of Raikkonen’s time to go fastest with a 1m33.336s.
Williams driver Felipe Massa also made gains on the softer rubber around the same time, jumping into third with a 1m35.092s, while Ricciardo improved to an identical time to the thousandth.
Valtteri Bottas, who lost his T-wing when it snapped off early in the session, made his move with 17 minutes to go, splitting the Ferraris with a 1m34.333s.
He was quickly displaced by team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who went second with a 1m34.093s.
But they were both shuffled back a spot several minutes later when Raikkonen restored the Ferrari one-two by improving to a 1m33.389s.
Hamilton then returned to the track with a few minutes to go to have one more crack at the Ferraris, but the error at the hairpin meant he only improved to a 1m33.879s.
This also gave Bottas the opportunity to sneak into third, jumping his team-mate with a 1m33.707s on his final run.
Massa was best of the rest in fifth after improving to a 1m34.773s, while Max Verstappen got ahead of Red Bull team-mate Ricciardo with a 1m34.946s set inside the last 10 minutes.
Lance Stroll and Jolyon Palmer were next in line, while Carlos Sainz was 10th quickest in the Toro Rosso.
All drivers set their best times on super-softs, except for Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat in 15th place.
|6||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m34.946s||1.610s||20|
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m35.092s||1.756s||23|
|10||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m35.223s||1.887s||24|
|13||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m35.626s||2.290s||20|
|15||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m35.804s||2.468s||23|
|16||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m35.811s||2.475s||24|
Chinese Grand Prix practice: Max Verstappen tops disrupted FP1
Max Verstappen topped the first Formula 1 free practice session of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend, which was disrupted by two lengthy red flag periods.
The Red Bull driver made the best of the very limited running on offer, emerging from the garage on the intermediate tyres at just the right time to end up 1.5s clear of Williams drivers Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll.
It took more than 45 minutes for the session to properly get going, thanks to a lengthy red flag.
The stoppage was initially called shortly after the session had started, due to weather conditions in Shanghai being unsuitable for the medical helicopter to land at the hospital if needed.
It wasn’t until 47 minutes after the session started that the track went green again.
While not actually raining the circuit was still wet, the majority of drivers appearing on wets before quickly switching to intermediates.
The changeover proved a little tricky for the Haas drivers, both Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean spinning on the intermediates.
It was Lance Stroll that set the first step forwards on the inters, moving from a 1m54.508s to a 1m52.507s to go fastest.
Verstappen then proved beyond doubt that the intermediate was the best tyre, moving ahead of Stroll with a 1m52.266s before immediately improving to a 1m50.491s.
That wound up being the best time of the session. With half an hour to go a virtual safety car was called while crews retrieved Nico Hulkenberg’s beached Renault from the Turn 3 gravel trap after a spin.
By the time that was cleared, the red flag was back out as conditions grounded the medical helicopter again. With four minutes to run, and no sign of improvement in the weather, the session was called off.
Verstappen ended up 1.5s clear of the two Williams cars, with Grosjean splitting Toro Rosso drivers Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat behind the top three.
Fernando Alonso was the last of the drivers in the 1m53s in seventh, with Daniel Ricciardo down in eighth, 3.5s slower than his team-mate, having been one of the few drivers to stay out under VSC conditions in the hope of getting some more meaningful running.
The premature end to the session meant none of the Mercedes or Ferrari drivers were anywhere near the front of the field. Valtteri Bottas did the most running of the ‘big four’, just four laps on the wet tyres leaving him ninth in the times.
Lewis Hamilton didn’t set a time, having been strapped in ready for a run right as the second red flag was called.
It was a similar story for Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, neither setting a time.
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m50.491s||–||4|
|4||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m52.840s||2.349s||5|
|6||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m53.314s||2.823s||4|
|8||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m54.038s||3.547s||7|
|18||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||–||–||2|
|19||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||–||–||3|
F1 Australian Grand Prix: Hamilton beats Vettel to pole position
Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for the Australian Grand Prix, after winning a tense qualifying battle with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes Formula 1 team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
Hamilton was three tenths up on Vettel after the first runs in Q3, with Bottas just two thousandths of a second slower in third, before Daniel Ricciardo crashed his Red Bull heavily at Turn 14 and caused the session to be stopped.
Hamilton went even faster on his final run once the session resumed, sealing pole position with a 1m22.188s lap – the fastest ever recorded by an F1 car around Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit.
Bottas momentarily held top stop before Hamilton’s improvement despite a scruffy final flying lap, with Vettel then denying Mercedes a front row lockout by posting the second fastest time on his final run.
Despite setting the pace in final practice, Ferrari ultimately didn’t quite have the speed to challenge the best of the Mercedes drivers, with Vettel 0.268s down on Hamilton, but fractionally quicker than Bottas.
The second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen was fourth fastest, more than half a second further back, while the remaining Red Bull of Max Verstappen claimed fifth.
Romain Grosjean produced a stunning effort to qualify his Haas inside the top six, nearly four tenths clear of Felipe Massa’s Williams.
Massa was just 0.044s clear of Carlos Sainz Jr, who in turn narrowly beat Toro Rosso team-mate Daniil Kvyat to eighth on the grid.
Ricciardo wound up 10th after failing to set a time before his crash.
Neither Force India made it through to Q3. Sergio Perez, who complained of a gearshift problem, missed the cut by just 0.074s despite improving by nearly four tenths on his final flying lap, while Esteban Ocon failed to find time on his final run and wound up 14th.
Nico Hulkenberg qualified 12th fastest on his debut for the works Renault team, only 0.010s down on Perez, while Fernando Alonso manhandled the troubled McLaren-Honda to the 13th best time, ahead of Ocon and Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber.
Last-minute Sauber stand-in Antonio Giovinazzi was 16th fastest, after replacing the unfit Pascal Wehrlein ahead of final practice.
The Ferrari reserve was quicker than Ericsson after the first runs in Q1, but went off at the penultimate corner on his final effort, so wound up 0.183s down and failed to make the Q2 cut.
Kevin Magnussen’s difficult first weekend racing for Haas continued, the Dane running off track on his final Q1 flier and failing to improve his time.
He was fractionally faster than the second McLaren-Honda of Stoffel Vandoorne, who completed only one flying lap in qualifying after a fuel-flow problem forced him to return to the pits for most of the session.
Williams repaired rookie Lance Stroll’s car in time to make a late appearance in Q1, following his heavy crash at the end of FP3.
The Canadian was 19th fastest, though faces a grid penalty for a gearbox change ahead of the session, while Renault’s Jolyon Palmer qualified slowest of the 20 runners, more than a second down on Stroll and over three adrift of Renault team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m23.485s||1.297s|
|8||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m24.487s||2.299s|
|9||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m24.512s||2.324s|
|10||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||–||–|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m25.081s||2.893s|
|14||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m25.568s||3.380s|
F1 Australian GP: Ferrari driver Vettel fastest in final practice
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel broke the unofficial Albert Park lap record on his way to top spot in third practice, ahead of qualifying for the Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Vettel was the early pace-setter as Ferrari decided to complete a burst of swift laps on ultra-softs in the opening minutes of the session, with he and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen setting the early pace.
German Vettel subsequently improved his time midway through the hour-long session, recording a session’s best of 1m23.380s – again set on a set of ultra-soft tyres.
That was enough for him to trump Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, the pair ending up second and third respectively.
Unlike Ferrari, Mercedes decided to wait until later in the session to complete its runs on the ultra-soft tyre.
Bottas and Hamilton both headed to the track with a little under 20 minutes remaining, with Bottas jumping into second with a 1m23.859s and ending the session the faster of the two Silver Arrows.
Hamilton wasn’t far behind in third and tucked in with a 1m23.870s – although he did go fastest of all in the first sector on his flying lap, only to lose time by running slightly wide at Turn 13.
That wound up being the last of the significant improvements in the top order, as a Lance Stroll crash sparked the first red flag of the day when he hit the wall at the exit of Turn 10.
The Williams driver had just started an ultra-soft run with 10 minutes to go when he side-swiped the wall and rolled to a stop half way down to Turn 11.
The stoppage was long enough for the session not to be restarted.
Raikkonen ended up fourth in the second Ferrari, the Finn having suffered a puncture early on in the session – while his engine also cut out on the approach to Turn 13 as he ran up the escape road.
His best time was a 1m23.988s, with that effort more than a second faster than the next best car of Nico Hulkenberg.
Behind the Ferraris and Mercedes, Renault driver Hulkenberg was the best of the rest as he jumped from 10th to fifth late on with a best effort of 1m25.063s, also set on ultra-soft tyres.
That was enough for him to displace Daniel Ricciardo, who was the fastest Red Bull in sixth – the Australian and his team-mate Max Verstappen, who ended the session in 12th, both struggling to find time on their ultra-soft runs.
Ricciardo finished half a second clear of Romain Grosjean who was seventh in the leading Haas.
Toro Rosso pair Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat were next, while Grosjean’s team-mate Kevin Magnussen was finally able to complete finally sufficient running and completed the top 10.
The McLarens were 14th and 15th, with Fernando Alonso finishing ahead of team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne.
Antonio Giovinazzi – who was confirmed as a late stand-in for Pascal Wehrlein before the session – completed 18 laps to end up just over a second behind Sauber team-mate Marcus Ericsson.
PRACTICE THREE TIMES
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m25.092s||1.712s||15|
|8||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m25.948s||2.568s||11|
|9||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m26.049s||2.669s||11|
|12||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m26.269s||2.889s||7|
|13||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m26.457s||3.077s||12|
|16||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m27.103s||3.723s||16|
Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen said Ferrari did not have a clean run on Friday and shares his team-mates confidence that there is room for improvement.
"Nothing was as clean as we wanted and we have things to improve," said Raikkonen.
"We have to look at the big picture, this is the first day and everybody will go for tomorrow.
"It’s hard to say from today where we’re going to be against Mercedes, but we have to improve in a few areas and then we will see."
Seb e Kimi alla ricerca dell’assetto migliore
Melbourne – La prima giornata del nuovo mondiale è sempre un evento speciale, ma per Scuderia Ferrari le prove libere all’Albert Park hanno rappresentato semplicemente l’opportunità di svolgere il programma prefissato. Che, nel caso della SF70H, significa sostanzialmente lavoro su assetti e bilanciamento. Le specifiche di pneumatici fornite da Pirelli sono state tutte utilizzate da Sebastian e Kimi, partendo con la Soft per passare poi – nella seconda sessione – a Super e Ultrasoft.
L’asfalto molto sporco e i diversi carichi di benzina rendono impossibile una vera valutazione comparativa. Come ha riassunto Vettel alla fine delle prove: “Al venerdì è sempre difficile dire qualcosa. In ogni caso è stato bello sedersi di nuovo nell’abitacolo. Nella prima sessione abbiamo avuto qualche piccolo problema che ci ha un po’ rallentato, la seconda è andata meglio. Quanto al bilanciamento, oggi c’eravamo abbastanza, ma si può ancora fare di meglio. I tempi sul giro non contano niente: solo domani si scopriranno i giochi”.
Non molto diverso il commento di Raikkonen: “Possiamo essere contenti, nel complesso la giornata non è andata male. Abbiamo imparato molte cose e ora sappiamo in quali aree migliorare. Quanto alla prestazione, non si possono fare paragoni con i test invernali, anche perché questa è una pista un po’ anomala e non dà un quadro preciso della situazione”.
In totale sono stati 45 i giri compiuti da Seb nelle due sessioni (10+35) mentre Kimi ne ha accumulati 16 nella prima parte e 30 nella seconda.