Welcome to our live coverage of the 2019 Australian Grand Prix practice and qualifying sessions.
Australian hope Daniel Ricciardo has been downplaying his hopes for the 2019 Formula One season but even he didn’t see what was coming in qualifying.
The 29-year-old dramatically failed to progress through to the final session of qualifying after being bundled out by 0.08 seconds in Q2.
Ricciardo’s final lap wasn’t enough for him to sneak into the top 10 as both he and teammate Nico Hulkenberg failed to make the final session, finishing 11th and 12th.
For reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, it was business as usual, equalling Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna’s record of eighth pole positions at one Grand Prix track with a spellbinding qualifying lap in Melbourne, Hamilton’s sixth consecutive pole in Melbourne.
Hamilton does it again.Source:Getty Images
Hamilton was more than 0.4 seconds behind teammate Valtteri Bottas as he approached his final flying lap, but delivered an absolutely stonking final lap to steal pole.
The result saw Mercedes lock out the front row of the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix with Sebastian Vettel more than 0.7 seconds behind.
Max Verstappen made a late charge to finish fourth ahead of Charles Leclerc.
“Mercedes smashed them to bits there,” Sky Sports’ Martin Brundle said.
“Absolutely smashed Red Bull and Ferrari.”
The pole position is Hamilton’s eighth pole in Melbourne and the sixth consecutive time he has secured pole in Australia
It was also Hamilton’s 58th career pole with Mercedes.
Hamilton said it was a tense qualifying session and that he was “shaking it was so close out there”.
At the end of the second round of qualifying, Ricciardo and his teammate only did the one late run in the second session — and they came to regret it when neither of their cars could break the top 10.
“Both Renaults out, a bit of a shocker there,” Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle said.
Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat, Antonio Giovinazzi, Alex Albon, Ricciardo and Hulkenberg were the drivers eliminated.
Ricciardo also suffered the added pain of finishing second to his teammate.
Q2: Full classificationNew lap record for Hamilton 👊March 16, 2019
BREAKING: ELIMINATED (Q2)Double 🍌 as both Renaults leave qualifying 😯11 HUL12 RIC13 ALB14 GIOMarch 16, 2019
Ricciardo said that 12th wasn’t where the car was and he was confident to sneak into the points tomorrow.
“I knew it was going to be tough but I did believe we had the pace for Q3,” Ricciardo said.
“I don't know how deep we could have got into the top 10 but I was just half a tenth to get into Q3 and I knew that was there, it was in the car. I lost it in the first sector, I was down a bit, close to a tenth there. That's alone was why I was frustrated with myself because I knew it was there in the car. It’s alright, normally if I don’t qualify as well as I think I can, I seem to carry a little chip on my shoulder for the race, so I’ll use this fuel for tomorrow.”
It wasn’t a particularly memorable day for Daniel Ricciardo.Source:AAP
While Ricciardo wasn’t happy with where he ended up, he did beat out Pierre Gasly, the driver who replaced him at Red Bull.
Gasly’s failure to escape the drop zone in Q1 was the biggest shock of the session.
Ricciardo had to perform his own late escape in the opening qualifying session, setting a quick, late lap to jump Gasly and record the 13th quickest lap.
Gasly was eliminated in 17th position.
Q1: Full classificationA puncture made Kubica's situation worse 💥March 16, 2019
Oops. Gasly's Red Bull is knocked out of Q1. And one of the latest runs that did it was - guess who? - Daniel Ricciardo's last lap in the Renault https://t.co/qWrZoZ7ssv— Andrew Benson (@andrewbensonf1) March 16, 2019
WTF Gasly out— Ivan Arizpe (@FlexZCoD) March 16, 2019
Gasly spoke after the elimination and couldn’t hide his disappointment.
“Unfortunately it is going to be tough,” Gasly said of the race.
“It is going to be a difficult now but it’s a long day it is important to stay positive and take that experience with the car and improve.”
Red Bull shocked F1 commentators throughout the first qualifying as drivers Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly failed to beat Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg’s time midway through the session.
“What is going on at Red Bull,” Sky Sports guru Martin Brundle said.
“Red Bull really on the back foot.”
Ricciardo then split the Red Bulls when he registered his first time, recording the eighth fastest lap, 0.17 seconds behind Hulkenberg with five minutes left in the session.
Verstappen eventually responded by setting the third fastest lap behind the two Mercedes with four minutes remaining.
The two Williams, Lance Stroll, Kevin Magnussen and the huge shock of Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly were the drivers eliminated.
AUSTRALIAN GP QUALIFYING TIMESHEET
1) Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:20.486
2) Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +0.112
3) Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +0.704
4) Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.834
5) Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +0.956
6) Romain Grosjean (Haas) +1.340
7) Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +1,613
8) Lando Norris (McLaren) +1,818
9) Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) +1,828
10) Sergio Perez (Racing Point) +2.295
Out in Q2
11) Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) 1:22.562
12) Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) 1:22.570
13) Alex Albon (Toro Rosso) 1:22.636
14) Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) 1:22.714
15) Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) 1:22.774
Out in Q1
16) Lance Stroll (Racing Point) 1:23.017
17) Pierre Gasly (Red Bull) 1:23.020
18) Carlos Sainz (McLaren) 1:23.084
19) George Russell (Williams) 1:24.360
20) Robert Kubica (Williams) 1:26.067