NEW ERA OF QUALIFYING IN MELBOURNE (But how long will it last):
POLE TIME 2.5 SECONDS FASTER THAN 2015
Melbourne, March 19, 2016 – A new era of qualifying began today in Melbourne, with drivers being eliminated one-by-one. The new format gave everybody plenty to get used to, as drivers and teams worked out the best compromise between setting a quick time and managing the tyre allocation in order to maximise opportunities for the race. Lewis Hamilton’s pole position time for Mercedes (the 50th of his career) was close to 2.5 seconds quicker than his pole last year and three-tenths off the pole record: a clear indication of the performance increase from the latest-generation cars.
On the surface it looks like normal service resumed as Lewis Hamilton stamped his authority on 2016’s 1st qualifying session but there are signs that both Seb and Kimi are closer to the Silver Arrows as Vettel was half a second shy of Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes. What has failed to materialise was an induced excitement. What we did enjoy was the emergence of Toro Rosso as the best of the rest. This despite the new regs meaning that in Q1 and Q3 cars had finished running with minutes to spare. The clock may have been ticking but the laps had already been done, and despite the much lauded system drivers elected on mass to save their tyres for when it mattered, race day.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “More so than ever, today was all about learning and thinking on your feet. The teams headed into a brand new qualifying format with relatively little tyre data, as a result of the rain that limited running yesterday. More detailed work was done in the dry conditions of FP3 today, with some drivers only trying the supersoft compound for the first time. When it came to qualifying, the aim of the game hasn’t fundamentally changed: it’s still to get through the session using as few sets of tyres as possible. However, we already saw a number of different ways of achieving that goal, which will make for some interesting strategies tomorrow: especially for those outside the top eight, who will have a free choice of starting tyres.”
How the tyres behaved today:
Medium: Not used that much so far this weekend. It is one of the two mandatory sets in the race together with the soft.
Soft: The favoured race tyre: will generally be chosen for the longest stints tomorrow. Around 1.2s faster per lap than the medium*
Supersoft: The only tyre used in qualifying, around 0.7s faster per lap than the soft*
*Data to be confirmed after full analysis
Race strategy: The rain and limited running yesterday, as well as a brand new set of tyre regulations, mean that race strategy is hard to predict.
— Pirelli Motorsport (@pirellisport) March 20, 2016
F 3 – TOP 3 TIMES
QUALIFYING TOP 8
LONGEST STINTS SO FAR
BEST TIME BY COMPOUND SO FAR