Your intrepid correspondent made her way to Albert Park Melbourne for the first qualifying session of the year (oh the hardship).
The session threw up a few surprises for those who hadn’t paid enough attention to pre-season testing. Even for those of us who were paying attention, the abject failure of the McLarens made our little journalist’s fingers ache at the impending tide of RonSpeak.
In an event that surprised exactly no one Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets with 1:26.327 followed three tenths behind by his Monegasque/Finnish/German team mate Nico Rosberg. The Mercedes team have all but engraved their names on the Constructor’s trophy before the lights go out for the first race as they cruised over the line a full second and a half quicker than their nearest rivals.
Their nearest rival bore a familiar set of stripes as Felipe Massa finished the session
with a time of 1:27.718. His team mate Valterri Bottas finished in 6th had to be helped from his car after Q3 with back problems and was taken to hospital for evaluation. The team & doctors will make a decision on whether he is fit to race this morning stay tuned to our Twitter feed @otherhalfsports or our Facebook page for updates.
When Massa looked in his mirrors he saw a familiar shade of red. Familiar to Felipe, but not familiar to this high up on the grid for the past twelve months. The Ferrari’s of our two new dad’s Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikonnen showed early pace to take 4th and 5th on the grid however rumors of the Ferrari being a thirsty lass may put paid to results on Sunday.
The color may be familiar to long time fans as Ferrari painted their cars “Schumacher Red” as a tribute to their seven time Champion, who is still battling to recover from brain injuries sustained in a skiing accident over a year ago.
Hometown hero Daniel Ricciardo will start from an unfamiliar seventh on the grid after losing one of his four allowed ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) units before qualifying even began. This combined with wiring issues for team mate Daniil Kvyat led to some tense conversations in the paddock between Team Principal Christian Horner and Renault.
Horner later told the BBC ““I have no idea how they have managed to mess it up so badly,” Horner told BBC Sport. Except the word he used was rather less polite than “mess”.”
All this does not bode well for the former constructor’s champions and it could be a long season ahead for the two Dan’s.
It looks like sister team Toro Rosso have managed just fine with their Renault power units with grand prix rookies Sainz and Verstappen performing strongly on debut. Sainz outperformed his 17 year old teammate to make it into Q3 and claim in 8th on the grid.
The twin Lotus’ (Lotusii?) of Grosjean and Maldonado are flying along with their new Mercedes power units and both drivers looked ecstatic to make it into Q3 and the top ten.
Giedo Van der Garde may have withdrawn his case for now against Sauber but Felipe Nasr was still driving like he had something to prove, dragging the spectacular Blue and yellow liveried car into a respectable 11th. His teammate however showed that your helmet matching the car doesn’t give you extra power and sits in 16th.
The Force India duo of Hulkenberg and Perez again underperformed, probably due to a lack of pre-season running (money issues), and will start in grid spots 14 & 15.
Manor GP have been called to the stewards to discuss why they failed to take part in any session of the weekend. We think we know the answer; they didn’t put the wheels on the car… Paddock talk says that the team traveled to Australia to take advantage of the bulk freight offered by the FIA to the remainder of the non-European races, and will not race before China at the earliest.
Have we missed anyone?
The fundamental integration of the Honda power unit into the complete package of the Mclaren chassis and driver combination resulted in an inherent failure to perform. Organizational restructure is being considered. Fernando is still recovering from his concussion and we await his return.
For those who don’t have their RonSpeak filter on that all boils down to: The car is a piece of crap, heads will roll, Alonso is looking for a loophole in his contract so he can go race WEC with Webber. (OK the last part is wild speculation, we know concussions are serious and wish Fernando all the best for his recovery, but if we were him right now, we’d be looking for a good lawyer.)
Your correspondent will be back later with a wrap up of the race, unless Ricciardo wins, then she’ll be partying with the rest of Melbourne.