Hamilton claims pole as new Qualifying system falters

By Adam Tate, Managing Editor

Lewis Hamilton has claimed pole position for the Australian Grand Prix with a stunning 1 minute, 23.837 lap around the Albert Park circuit to reach career pole number 50. It was about the only true excitement of the session as F1’s controversial new qualifying format completely imploded.

Q1 had barely begun and the field was immediately thrown into chaos as teams struggled to cope with the elimination countdown clock. Many drivers complained as they were on good laps, but the 90 second countdown clock nullified their efforts. One has to feel that Charlie Whiting will be addressing the issue with the teams sooner, rather than later.

It added extra tension to the sessions and pressure on the drivers and one felt it may just work, until the disastrous Q3 session put an end to any hopes of the new system being an improvement. The now top 8 shootout was contested by the two Mercedes, two Ferrari cars, two Toro Rosso’s, as well as Daniel Ricciardo for Red Bull and Felipe Massa for Williams.

Max Verstappen put in a great lap for fifth that essentially ended Ricciardo’s and Massa’s hopes. Then Lewis Hamilton put in his stunning lap and everyone gave up. Qualifying was over, all the cars in the pits, with over two minutes left on the clock in what was the most boring, confounding qualifying in years.

The teams and drivers are all visibly upset, the fans are letdown and instead of focusing on the excitement of tomorrow, Formula One has a needless new controversy on its hands.

Complete Qualifying Results

Position Driver Team Time
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:23.837
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:24.197
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:24.675
4 Kimi Raikkonen Toro Rosso 1:25.033
5 Max Verstappen Ferrari 1:25.434
6 Felipe Massa Toro Rosso 1:25.458
7 Carlos Sainz Williams 1:25.582
8 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:25.589
9 Sergio Perez Force India 1:25.753
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:25.865
11 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:25.961
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:26.125
13 Jenson Button McLaren 1:26.304
14 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:27.601
15 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:27.742
16  Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:27.435
17  Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:27.958
18  Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:28.006
19 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:28.322
20 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 1:29.606
21 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1:29.642
22 Rio Haryanto Manor 1:29.627*

*denotes grid penalty

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Associate Editor of Motorsports Tribune and jack of all trades, Adam is our resident Formula 1 expert. He has covered F1, IndyCar, WEC, IMSA, NASCAR, PWC and more. His work has been featured on multiple outlets including AutoWeek and Motorsport.com. A MT Co-founder, Adam has been with us since the beginning when he and Joey created Tribute Racing back in 2012. When not at the track or writing about cars, Adam can be found enjoying the Oregon back roads in his GTI.