Who will line up where tomorrow for the Australian Grand Prix
Mercedes driver, Lewis Hamilton has begun the FIA Formula 2014 season in style after pinching the pole position spot from Red Bull’s new recruit, Daniel Ricciardo ahead of tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix.
Hamilton was the man of the moment as he finished the best of the rest despite having to battle against his rivals, the wet weather conditions and the new car, as well as the change in rules and regulations that have come into force this season.
The 2008 World Champion has maintained his good record at the Albert Park circuit in securing pole position and in doing so will have led from the front in Melbourne for the third time when the race gets underway tomorrow.
Ricciardo performed equally as well as Hamilton in qualifying and initially took provisional pole position, until Hamilton crossed the line to spoil the party for the Australian on home turf. Ricciardo has achieved his best qualifying result to date with second place and it being his first time as a Red Bull driver. Riccardo also managed to out qualify his team mate, Sebastian Vettel, who failed to make it through to Q3 and the all-important top 10 shootout. The German driver had to settle for 13th place in qualifying. The last time the reigning World Champion failed to make it through to Q3 was for the Belgian Grand Prix in 2012. Vettel will line up alongside Raikkonen with the shake-up in positions and Bottas moving five places down the grid.
Hamilton’s team mate, Nico Rosberg qualified just behind Ricciardo to complete the top three on the grid for tomorrow.
The first race of the 2014 season will feature some new faces in the field, which will include McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen who makes his Formula One debut for the team this weekend. The Danish driver got off to a good start with his first appearance in qualifying as he made through to Q3 and finished the session in fourth place. Magnussen’s team mate, Jenson Button narrowly missed out on the top 10 shootout and qualified in 11th place. The 2009 World Champion was one of the unfortunate casualties as a result of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen hitting the wall as Q2 came to a close. Button will be promoted to 10th place after taking into account the five place grid penalty for Bottas.
Raikkonen’s team mate, Fernando Alonso, was the sole prancing horse flying the flag for the team when Q3 got underway. The Spaniard completed the session just behind Magnussen to secure fifth place on the grid. Raikkonen will move into 11th place on the grid as a result of the penalty for Bottas.
Raikkonen’s incident caused a shake-up in the grid ahead of the race tomorrow and the Toro Rosso duo made an appearance in Q3. Jean-Eric Vergne pipped his new team mate, Daniil Kvyat to the higher grid slot of sixth place. Kvyat found himself a little further down the line up after qualifying with his eighth place finish. The Russian rookie ended Q3 with a bang as he hit the wall in a similar incident to Raikkonen.
Nico Hulkenberg has got off to a good start upon his return to Force India this season since leaving Sauber at the end of last year. The German driver found himself in a Toro Rosso sandwich after qualifying in seventh place.
Felipe Massa was also one of the fortunate drivers who made it through to Q3. The Brazilian driver has made the switch from Ferrari and joined Williams for this season. Massa qualified ahead of his team mate, Valtteri Bottas to take ninth place and Bottas completed the top 10. Bottas will face a five place grid penalty ahead of the race which will see him drop to 15th place.
Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez will also suffer the same fate further down the field as a result of a gearbox change.
Hamilton has made his mark ahead of the opening race of the season by clinching his 32nd career pole position to date. The Englishman has a good track record at the Albert Park circuit. It remains to be seen whether he will convert his pole position to victory and be the first race winner of the 2014 season. There are lots of factors for Hamilton to face, which include the new car, unpredictable weather conditions and the shake-up in the grid positions to name but a few. Vettel, the four times World Champion will also be coming from behind as the race gets underway tomorrow and he is marking his 95th appearance for Red Bull this weekend.