Lewis Hamilton won pole for the 2016 Australian Grand Prix

Car 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes won his 50th career pole the 2016 Australian Grand Prix with a time of 1:23.837. Lewis Hamilton is the 3rd F1 driver in history to reach the benchmark, along with Michael Schumacher & Ayrton Senna. 2nd Place Car 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes with a time of 1:24.197. 3rd Place Car 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari with a time of 1:24.675.

For the 2016 Australian Grand Prix qualifying F1 had a new quick fire elimination format. As an educated race fan of racing I didn’t like this format of qualifying my favorite is IndyCar’s or a qualifying race. This type of qualifying is very tough to keep track of & not very exciting for the fans.

2016 AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX – SATURDAY POST QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT

DRIVERS
1 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2 – Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
3 – Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)

TV UNILATERAL

Lewis, your 50th career pole, only Senna and Schumacher have gone beyond that mark, on top of it all weekend it would seem, through practice and qualifying, you must be delighted?

Lewis Hamilton: Absolutely. First, I really have to… I’m not going to take my hat off, but really take my hat off to this team. What they’ve done to raise the bar once more in our third year to be fighting the rest, it’s just… truly for me, it inspires me, it motivates me and I really enjoyed driving the car today in qualifying. We got the set-up just right. There were some sexy laps. They felt so good. Just flowing and no real mistakes and that’s really all you can hope for as a driver is to always improved and that’s what we did today. Really happy.

Nico, turning to you, the heat was on you, certainly towards the end. A couple of mistakes in Turn One, both on your first run in Q1 and also in Q3, just not your day today?

Nico Rosberg: No, the last lap was good, just Lewis did a better job, that’s it. But mainly it’s impressive to see how the team in the third year running now, it seems, of course it’s very early days, so let’s be careful but for sure this weekend we seem to be the quickest out there by a good margin. It’s amazing to see that. Because the risk is always when you’re dominating that you start to become complacent and that’s a big risk always, everybody has experienced that, but it seems that we’re able to push through and so that’s really awesome. Of course, not happy with second place but still a lot of opportunities for tomorrow starting from second.

So Sebastian, we now have a bit of a picture: it looked close in free practice three, you split the Mercedes after the first run in Q3 but ultimately the margin is still pretty large to Lewis. You used up your tyres earlier on than they did as well, so is your feeling sitting here now one of disappointment?

Sebastian Vettel: Not really. I think I said many times that we have done a step forwards, which I think we have. I think especially tomorrow we should be quite a bit closer. We expected them to be strong in qualifying, which they were. I think we had a bit of a rougher start to find a bit the rhythm, certainly I had, and it was just getting better throughout qualifying. Very happy with the lap I had in the end, so we called it there and saved the set of tyres for tomorrow. Surely we’re not on the front row but we still have high hopes for the race and it’s going to be a long year, we know this car has a lot of potential, so I think as a starting out third and fourth, locking out the second row, is a good achievement. The team’s been pushing very hard and as I said we have a long year ahead of us.

Back to you again Lewis. Obviously the race tomorrow, you’re looking for your third Australian Grand Prix victory. Do you do so with a bit of calmness this evening as you prepare?

Lewis Hamilton: I’m generally, quite often, mostly calm, but there is a lot of work to do tonight. Obviously with these radio changes and less communication there’s a lot more studying that goes on for all of us in terms of remembering the sequence, things like we can’t be told if the strategy is changing throughout the race, so you kind of have to anticipate what happens. If they give us a different tyre we kind of have to guess it – could be a two, three, whatever stops we’re doing. I’m excited. I think it’s a new thing; we’re all in the same boat. I hope that it adds to the spectacle tomorrow, I highly doubt it, but we shall see.

Q: Lewis, your fifth pole in Australia, you talked a moment ago about having done some sexy laps. What is the key to a really good lap here in qualifying and did the format with the elimination and particularly all the traffic there at the beginning, did any of that put any more pressure on you today?

Lewis Hamilton: Not really, it was very much the same as usual. You have to go out and get your clear laps. Maybe there was a little bit more pressure on us as a team, and the way we operated but generally we just did the normal in terms of getting the laps. What I mean by sexy laps, they were just, when you finished… the car felt good, moved, it was like a beautiful rhythm. Felt like James Brown at the end of the lap.

Q: Nico, coming to you, obviously we’ve got a bunch of new rule changes this year, Lewis just referred to the radio change in his previous answer. The third one of course is the option of more tyres going into the race. Now, clearly that’s a strategic thing, you’re the guy who needs an extra something to work with. Do you see it giving you an oportunity to do something on strategy tomorrow?

Nico Rosberg: For sure, because there are going to be more unknowns in the race tomorrow, definitely. If Lewis gets a start, after that, if they have to change his strategy because of traffic behind or somsething, that he’s going to drop out into, he won’t know about it.

So, that’s for sure, there’s scenarios where you can lose out quite a lot. And, of course, starting second, I like that. It increases the chances, y’know?

Q: Essentially the same question to you Sebastian. You mentioned earlier on about your tactic in terms of the tyres. You’ve got more variability, there is less information coming to you from the team, are you sitting there thinking you have a chance to get among these guys tomorrow?

Sebastian Vettel: I do. Not because of the changes in rules but in general I think in the race you can always creating something. Tomorrow we try obviously to push very hard and create something. Everybody knows roughly what to do. It’s not the first race that we’re going to do.

Bottom line is that the regulations haven’t changed so the cars are similar to drive compared to last year. Hope that we can put definitely more pressure than today on both of them in the race tomorrow.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Ralf Bach – Auto Bild motorsport) Question to Matteo, how does it feel to drive a Mercedes car?

Matteo Bonciani: Next question

Q: (Daniel Johnson – The Telegraph) To all three of you: so we had the new qualifying system today and for most of Q3, what we saw on the TV was guys sat in the car and then getting out without going and doing a lap. Nico and Lewis, the two of you went out and did some laps and then with three minutes left, came in the garage and nothing more happened and the chequered flag waved with no one out there. Christian Horner’s already said that he thinks F1 should apologise to the fans for the show it’s put on. Toto, your boss, said it’s rubbish. It’s difficult when you’re in it but I wondered what you thought of it, whether F1 should apologise and whether we should go back to the old system as soon as we can?

Lewis Hamilton: Well, we’ve not seen it so we don’t really know how it worked for the others. We said at the beginning that it wasn’t the right way but it’s like you can’t knock it before you try it. We tried it and all the engineers were right. It doesn’t make no difference to me at the end of the day. I did what I had to do.

Sebastian Vettel: I had time to get changed…

Nico Rosberg: It’s good that F1 tries but it’s the wrong way so we should go back to the other system, for the fans.

Q: For the whole three sessions or just the final part?

Nico Rosberg: For the last one especially, I’m not really able to judge for the previous two, but especially for Q3.

Sebastian Vettel: Well, I think it’s very easy. I don’t see why everybody’s surprised now. We all said what’s going to happen, it happened so obviously we were told to wait and see but now we saw and I don’t think it was very exciting. It was a bit crazy in the beginning with all the cars pushing and trying to do a lap before they get potentially kicked out so managing traffic… it’s quite busy but for no reason because the time is there in the session to do it and in the end, also for the people in the grandstands, I
don’t feel it’s the right way to go. There are no cars to watch. In the end they want to see Lewis, Nico, Kimi, whoever, pushing it to the limit at the end of the session when the track’s supposed to be at its best etc. I don’t know we need the criticism now, we had the criticism already but it’s surely the wrong way to go, that’s what we said.

Lewis Hamilton: The good thing is that they tried something new and ultimately that is a good step, that we’re actually trying something new but it’s trial and error so maybe not just go back to the old way…

Sebastian Vettel: There’s a certain responsibility as well. We can’t just try things that many of us criticise, us included.

Lewis Hamilton: But why can’t you…

Sebastian Vettel: You can’t just turn around and say it was the wrong thing, we need to be sensible and try to do the right changes.

Lewis Hamilton: But that’s what they tried to do even though everyone told them it was the wrong one.

Sebastian Vettel: Yes.

Lewis Hamilton: Let’s leave it there.

Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Sebastian, did you sit in the pits at the end because you didn’t have any more supersoft tyres or because you said you wanted to save a set of tyres? But when we went through the sessions I think you have already consumed three before.

Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, it’s true, we had to go out again in Q2 so I think the fact that we called it off in Q3 was due to the fact that I had a good lap on the first try and we wanted then to save a set of tyres for tomorrow. Obviously, we would have liked to do it with only one run in Q2 but it wasn’t strong enough so I had to go out again, so that’s a fact, it was not due to the new format but I think in general, as I said earlier, it’s just wrong when the clock’s ticking and nobody’s on track.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Nico, did it ever cross your mind that the chain of six pole positions was broken today and does it means anything to you?

Nico Rosberg: No, I hadn’t thought of that but yes, a pity but that’s not on my mind when I’m going out and qualifying for the first race of the season, for sure not.

2016 Australian Grand Prix Qualifying

Position Car Driver Team Time Laps
1. Car 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:23.837 14
2. Car 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:24.197 13
3. Car 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:24.675 14
4. Car 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:25.033 13
5. Car 33 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:25.434 12
6. Car 19 Felipe Massa Williams 1:25.458 12
7. Car 55 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:25.582 14
8. Car 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:25.589 15
9. Car 11 Sergio Perez Force India 1:25.753 12
10. Car 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:25.865 14
11. Car 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:25.961 9
12. Car 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:26.125 9
13. Car 22 Jenson Button McLaren 1:26.304 9
14. Car 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:27.601 12
15. Car 20 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:27.742 11
16. Car 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:27.435 9
17. Car 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:27.958 7
18. Car 26 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Racing 1:28.006 5
19. Car 8 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:28.322 6
20. Car 21 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 1:29.606 6
21. Car 88 Rio Haryanto Manor Racing 1:29.627 3
22. Car 94 Pascal Wehrlein Manor Racing 1:29.642 3

Note – Car 88 Rio Haryanto Manor Racing drops 3 grid places for pit-lane collision with Car 8 Romain Grosjean Haas in FP3.

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