Quelle suprise. Current F1 World Champion, SEBASTIAN VETTEL/Red Bull Racing, took the pole for Sunday’s Qantas Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park Saturday afternoon, turning a lap of 1:23.529. He was the only driver to get down into the 23’s.
Vettel said “Things are looking good. We’ll be quite entertaining. Today couldn’t be any better.”
Second fastest was past F1 World Champion, LEWIS HAMILTON/Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, with Vettel’s RBR teammate and local hero, MARK WEBBER, was third. The Aussie expressed his disappointment but will look where he can find some speed.”
The word is that neither RBR used KERS during Qualifying.
CHARLIE WHITING, F1 Race Director, will hold an informal media briefing Saturday evening to clarify new procedures and answer questions on the new rules.
Fourth and fifth fastest were two more past champions, JENSON BUTTON/McLaren, and FERNANDO ALONSO/Scuderia Ferrari.
Sixth through tenth in the third of the three qualifying sessions were: VITALY PETROV/Lotus Renault GP, NICO ROSBERG/Mercedes GP Petronas F1 Team; FELIPE MASSA/Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro; KAMUI KOBAYASHI/Sauber F1 Team; and SEBASTIEN BUEMI/Scuderia Toro Rosso. Buemi said ““I am very happy to be back in Q3, as we had not been there since 2009.”
Vettel’s lap breaks the existing record set by MICHAEL SCHUMACHER back in 2004. Schumacher failed to make the top ten this day, the only one of the five champions in the race not parked in Parc Ferme after Qualifying for Scrutineering. Maybe he needs to wear a Petronas charm and use his magic wand for an Accio Speed spell on his car.
Schumacher was fast enough in the Third Practice, earning him a Pit Lane speeding ticket which will cost $800 Euros. Buemi got a ticket in Practice Two – $400 Euros
The ill-fated HRT cars failed to make the cut. While both drivers and cars were on track for the first of three sessions, they were off the pace by a considerable mark. With the 107 percent rule being brought back after many years, the cut off point was 1:31.266. VITANTONIO LIUZZI managed a 1:32.987, while his hapless teammate could only get up to 1:34.293.
TIMO GLOCK/Marussia Virgin Racing changed to a new engine after the Third Practice and will it for the remainder of the event. Each driver is allowed eight new engines for the 2011 20-race season. Nothing has been said about the number if the schedule is reduced to 19 races.
All the F1 cars will carry a Pray for Japan sticker, in England and Japanese. Many others will also carry individual graphics indicating their sympathy and hope for the earthquake and tsunami-ravaged land.
The ambient temperature for Qualifying was 64.2 degrees F/17.9C, although it seemed much colder. The skies were gloomy and gray. At least there was no rain.
It will be nearly 24 hours before the F1 cars have their dusk race. It’s forecast for a bit warmer weather Sunday.