VETTEL ON POLE AFTER QUALIFYING IS COMPLETED ON SUNDAY MORNING

Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel claimed his 37th career pole position at the Australian Grand Prix using the P Zero Red supersoft, after an unusual qualifying that was split between Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.

Q1 took place on Saturday as usual with Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg going fastest on the Cinturato Green intermediate in the early stages. As the rain fell harder, Q2 and Q3 were postponed after multiple delays, with darkness drawing in and more rain expected.

All 16 eligible drivers started the second session at 11am on Sunday using the Cinturato Green intermediate tyre, with track temperatures of 13 degrees centigrade and ambient temperatures of 15 degrees. With five minutes to go, McLaren driver Sergio Perez was the first to move onto the Red supersofts. However, the track was still not ready for slicks, with Rosberg again going fastest in Q2 on the Green intermediates and the slick tyre runners eliminated.

The final qualifying session also started on intermediate tyres, with McLaren’s Jenson Button the first driver to go out on slicks. But with the track drying all the time, pole position was set in the closing seconds – with Vettel actually crossing the line for his lap with just one second to go.

The final free practice session on Saturday morning was also characterised by wet weather, with Lotus driver Romain Grosjean going quickest.

Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “The pressure was on everybody with Q2 and Q3postponed until this morning, but safety always comes first. With the risk of drivers aquaplaning on standing water, or losing control over the many slippery painted white lines that are a particular feature of this street circuit, it was the right decision. Judging the crossover point proved to be the key to qualifying today. The rapid warm-up and peak performance of our supersoft tyres enabled the leading drivers to push with confidence during Q3 even when the track was not totally dry. With not so much information to go on from qualifying, it will be interesting to see how the different race strategies pan out. Due to the low temperatures we experienced some graining on the supersoft, but it was still the most effective tyre for the conditions in qualifying.”

The Pirelli mystery strategy predictor:

The strategy, as usual, will depend on the weather and the speed of each car. If it rains, then the strategy is much harder to predict – and the teams will just have to rely on any opportunities that come their way.

Likely winning strategies are as follows:

  • The fastest strategy looks likely to be a two-stopper: Start on the Supersoft / 1st stop: change to Medium on lap 14 / 2nd stop: change to Medium on lap 36.
  • The second fastest strategy is a three-stopper with a start on the Supersoft / 1st stop: change to Medium on lap 8 / 2nd stop: change to Medium on lap 23 / 3rd stop: change to Medium on lap 40.

Fastest compounds in FP3:

1. R. Grosjean 1.26.929 Hard New
2. F. Alonso 1.27.000 Hard New
3. F. Massa 1.27.241 Hard New

Top 10 tyre use:

Vettel Supersoft 1m27.407s
Webber Supersoft 1m27.827s
Hamilton Supersoft 1m28.087s
Massa Supersoft 1m28.490s
Alonso Supersoft 1m28.493s
Rosberg Supersoft 1m28.523s
Raikkonen Supersoft 1m28.738s
Grosjean Supersoft 1m29.013s
Di Resta Supersoft 1m29.305s
Button Supersoft 1m30.357s