If you stayed up (or woke up) to watch the Australian Grand Prix qualifying sessions last night, you were rewarded for your sacrifice of shut-eye. The sessions were high on action with spats of rain, cars that clearly need a lot of adjusting, and some drivers we didn’t expect to see even close to the front row.
The biggest news of the day came from Sebastian Vettel, who for the first time in nearly two years found himself outside the bubble to advance into Q3. It was a mix of rain and a crash from Kimi Raikkonen that kept Vettel from running a clean lap, even though he sat multiple seconds off the pace. His teammate, Australian Daniel Ricciardo, was much more fortunate and nearly claimed pole.
Ricciardo sat on the top after driving a manic lap in the rain (on intermediate tires while everyone else was on the wet compound), only to be bumped out by Lewis Hamilton with seconds left on the clock. This pushed Nico Rosberg to the second row, a place he didn’t look too cheerful about in the post-qualifying press conference.
The Aussie crowd erupted when Ricciardo crossed the line at the top of the timesheets. Incidentally, they also roared when Vettel failed to advance. After such a poor pre-season, who would have thought that a Red Bull could nearly take pole position, and the new guy’s car at that.
Rookie Kevin Magnussen put his McLaren on the second row, in his first F1 qualifying session ever. Teammate Jenson Button wasn’t nearly as hot, and found himself down at P11. Fernando Alonso starts row three, followed by Jean-Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso, Nico Hulkenberg in a Force India, Daniil Kvyat in the second Toro Rosso, rounded out by Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas in both Williams cars.
While Rosberg didn’t post the fastest time of the day, he did leave a lasting thought in our minds. This circuit leads the entire season as far as fuel consumption goes. Tune in tomorrow morning at 1:30AM EST for the actual race. Anything could happen.