NEW ERA OF QUALIFYING IN MELBOURNE (But how long will it last)

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.

GP AUSTRALIA F1/2016

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.

GP AUSTRALIA F1/2016

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.

F 3 – TOP 3 TIMES

1.HAM Mercedes 1m25.624s SuperSoft New
2.ROS Mercedes 1m25.800s SuperSoft New
3.VET Ferrari 1m25.852s SuperSoft New

QUALIFYING TOP 8

1.Hamilton 01m23.837s Supersoft new
2.Rosberg 01m24.197s Supersoft new
3.Vettel 01m24.675s Supersoft new
4.Raikkonen 01m25.033s Supersoft new
5.Verstappen 01m25.434s Supersoft new
6.Massa 01m25.458s Supersoft new
7.SainzJr 01m25.582s Supersoft new
8.Ricciardo 01m25.589s Supersoft new

LONGEST STINTS SO FAR

SOFT Verstappen 17laps
SOFT SainzJr 17laps
SUPERSOFT Ericsson 15laps
SUPERSOFT Nasr 15laps
SUPERSOFT Massa 15laps
SUPERSOFT Bottas 15laps
INTERMEDIATE Wehrlein 13laps
MEDIUM** Haryanto 5laps

**Nearly unused

BEST TIME BY COMPOUND SO FAR

MEDIUM Ricciardo 1m32.394s
INTERMEDIATE Hamilton 1m38.841s
SOFT Rosberg 1m26.149s
SUPERSOFT Hamilton 1m23.837s