Hamilton leads Mercedes 1-2-3 in Australian GP quals

Lewis Hamilton will win the 2015 F1 title with ease as Rosberg is no match

Defending F1 champion Lewis Hamilton will start from pole position for the opening round of the 2015 Formula 1 World Championship in Australia after his teammate Nico Rosberg choked in the final Q3. The Briton's put up a time of 1m26.419s lap on his first run in Q3, while Rosberg had to abort his first effort after running wide onto the grass at the penultimate corner. Rosberg was beaten and he still had one more try to come.

As expected, Mercedes was the class of the field, with Hamilton's two soft-tire efforts in Q3 proving markedly quicker than his rivals, the British driver eventually stopping the clock at scintillatingly quick 1m 26.327secs.

Rosberg will start 2nd

Rosberg was no match for Hamilton on his second run, leaving him 0.6 back.

How fast are the Mercedes? Despite his errors Rosberg lap was still enough for him to be a full eight tenths faster than third place man Felipe Massa, who nonetheless successfully acquired 'best of the rest' status with his final lap. Felipe Massa claimed third spot on the grid for Williams, edging out the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel by just 0.039s on his final run.

Kimi Raikkonen made it two Ferraris in the top five while the Williams of Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top six.

A limping Valtteri Bottas ended qualifying with a sore back.

The 25-year-old Finn, who qualified three places behind his Williams teammate Felipe Massa in Melbourne, was seen limping in the paddock after the decisive session on Saturday evening.

Vettel best of the rest
Vettel best of the rest

"Valtteri was suffering with his back," the official Australian grand prix Twitter account quoted Williams engineer Rob Smedley as saying.

"Don't know what it is," Smedley added, "whether he's jarred his back or something."

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo will start seventh spot on the grid, ahead of Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz and the Lotus E23s of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado, which rounded out the top 10.

Both Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen failed to make it through, as the McLaren-Honda's were more than three seconds off the pace despite their soft tires.

Nico Rosberg says the large gap to Lewis Hamilton was due to mistakes and he believes he can match his Mercedes Formula 1 teammate's pace.

He is delusional.

"First of all Lewis was on impressive form today, he did an awesome job and nailed it all the time," said Rosberg, who went off onto the grass on his first Q3 flying lap so only had one pole shot.

"The speed was there, I just didn't get it together today. I'm not worried about pace at all, to be honest.

"In the long runs, my pace was very strong so hopefully it can be the other way around tomorrow."

"P2, I have to live with that today. It's still a long day tomorrow."

"The wind really has a big impact on the car so we all had to adapt again to it so that's why it was particularly difficult out there," said Rosberg.

"But my balance was good and the car was really good."

"Today we found a good balance and today was about pushing those laps," said Hamilton.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]QUOTES

Lewis Hamilton
It's been a great start to the weekend and, honestly, it doesn't feel like such a long time since the last race! It's been a huge effort from all the guys and girls at the factories to have this kind of performance from our car and I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to drive it. I've worked hard with the engineers yesterday and today to find a good balance. Then, in the session, I just tried to push hard and put the pieces together. It's so much fun when it works right, because this is the competition that I live for. And I'm immensely grateful to everybody at Mercedes for the hard work that has gone into it so far. But there is still a lot to do tonight to study for the race tomorrow because it will be a huge challenge to try and fight for the win. We will be working as hard as we can to make sure we have a good race.

Nico Rosberg
Lewis did a good job today, he drove like a champ. I also felt that I had the speed in the car but I didn't get together the perfect lap. In general I'm happy that the team again gave us a great car. It's fastest out there this year, too, so many thanks to the factories back home. But tomorrow I still can make it happen because it will be a long race. A lot can still happen and I will put on a great show. My long run pace on Friday was better than Lewis but he did quite a few set-up changes on his car, so there may be more to come from him.

Toto Wolff
It was a great day for the team and it's clear now that we have a very quick car. But you always have to stay careful – there are no points awarded on Saturday so we need to keep our feet on the ground and do our job properly tonight. It was a mega Lewis day out there on track. Both laps in Q3 would have been enough for pole position and he totally deserved it. For Nico, it was a bit messy today in Q3. He lost the car on his first run and had to pit, then decided to do his second run earlier so he could have some safety margin. He had a slow first sector – but the final sector was the quickest of anybody. He just didn't put the pieces together today but P2 is still a strong result. Looking to tomorrow, we will not be getting carried away. Sebastian looks strong and the Williams are very competitive, on the straights particularly. We have the pace in the car – but any mistakes from our side will cost us dearly. We will keep our heads down, prepare the best we can and see what Sunday brings.

Paddy Lowe
It's a great result for the team. The two laps from Lewis that were, in all honesty, much quicker than we had expected. And while it was a tricky session for Nico after the problem on his first run, he made a good recovery to lock out the front row. Overall, it hasn't been an easy day running the cars. P3 proved much hotter than any other session of the weekend, with high track temperatures and the challenge of adapting to them. Then, in qualifying, we saw temperatures falling rapidly and a gusting breeze that was also frequently changing direction. That made it a real challenge for the drivers to put in clean laps, so credit to them both for a superb first qualifying result of the season and credit to the teams at Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart for what appears to be a great car.

Felipe Massa
Mercedes have been ahead all weekend so we knew that on pure pace we were fighting for the best of the rest. Qualifying P3 means that we have done a very good job in getting the most out of the car; especially as the Ferrari's looked strong and were pushing us hard. It will be a tough battle tomorrow so we need to get the start right and have a good strategy to secure a podium and really start the season on a high note.

Valtteri Bottas
It was great to finally start the season and to have a very tight qualifying session. The car performed well and we were fighting with Ferrari throughout. Unfortunately towards the end of Q2 I started to feel a pain in my back. Under the circumstances I'm happy with sixth place, but as Felipe proved, this is not a true indication of our pace. Given the back complaint I had during the session, the team and I felt it sensible to get me checked out at the local hospital and we await their diagnosis.

'Raikkonen
Raikkonen says to Vettel, "Did you see how fast those Mercedes are?"

Kimi Raikkonen
On my quick lap, I lost around three tenths at turn 3 and then I made a couple of mistakes in the next two corners. We knew we couldn't fight the Mercedes, at least not in today's qualifying, but third place on the grid was possible. In any case, during free practice, we saw that our long runs are pretty good, so we can be confident of having a good race. All we need to do is get a good start and then give it our best, but I think we can fight for a good position. As a team, we are working well together and we have a pretty clear picture of the situation. We know we are quick, but we need to improve in all sectors and, as for myself, I have to drive better.

Sebastian Vettel
Let's keep our feet on the ground. So far this weekend, it's gone well and we've had no problems with the car. It's a shame that third place escaped us, as that would have made us the first team behind Mercedes, but it wasn't by much and, after all the race is tomorrow. We lost third place because my first run wasn't quick enough: I'm not very pleased with myself, because there was still some performance to be found, which would have meant I'd have qualified one place higher. In terms of strategy, maybe we could have done something different, but basically the result is down to me. First and second are a long way in front, but the race is tomorrow and anything can happen during the Grand Prix. A podium? There's not much of a gap between third and fourth on the grid, so I think the podium is a realistic goal and that's what we have to aim for.

'Ricciardo
Ricciardo says "holy shit" when he sees how fast the superior Mercedes cars are

DANIEL RICCIARDO
We made progress through the session which is promising, it was so good to feel the car for once and push it properly. I think seventh is where we are now and I'm happy we achieved that as the weekend hasn't gone well until now and qualifying was the first time I used the soft tire. The drivability has been tricky; we suffered a bit this time last year, but there are a few more issues this year which weren't expected, but it's how it is and we need to try and sort it out. I'm really happy with seventh as realistically that's the best we could have done today. The progress we made through qualifying is real and hopefully we can carry that on for the race.

DANIIL KVYAT
We are trying our best. It was hard with the few laps that we had and I was just trying to get up to speed; I didn't have enough confidence to make a good lap. It's not easy at the moment because we are trying to solve some problems, but we are making progress.

CHRISTIAN HORNER: After a difficult build up to qualifying, Daniel did a great job to make it through to Q3 and qualify seventh, which was the optimum today considering the issues we face this weekend. Unfortunately Daniil's qualifying was compromised by a gearbox issue which limited his mileage, but he acquitted himself well, although he lost two tenths at Turn 15, which could have got him through to Q3. Hopefully from rows four and seven on the grid, we will be looking to make progress in tomorrow's race."

Romain Grosjean
I'm really happy to be back in Q3, and especially happy for our guys who have been working so hard over the last twelve months. We knew we had a good car from winter testing and today we are more or less where we thought we could be. It's a tight field and if I had sneaked another two tenths from my lap, I would have been seventh on the grid. I think we can generally be very happy with what we've been doing. Our long runs have looked good so far so let's see what we can do during the race tomorrow.

Pastor Maldonado
Pastor Maldonado

Pastor Maldonado
Getting into the top ten is a pretty good result for us and it's positive to think that it could have been better as we did lose a little pace in the final qualifying session. Looking to the race it's quite encouraging as we're starting the season in a much better place than we were last year so it's all looking very promising. Fingers crossed, we're looking to have a good race tomorrow.

Nico Hulkenberg
We always want to be further up the grid, but being realistic I don't think we had the performance today to challenge for Q3. However, it's only the first qualifying session of the season, so it's still very early days and we have a lot of development work ahead of us. I enjoyed the qualifying session today: it was good fun out there and I felt comfortable in the car, and as a team we squeezed everything we could from the session. For tomorrow, I'm optimistic that our race pace will be stronger than our qualifying pace, as was often the case last year, so I'm looking forward to the race.

Sergio Perez
It was quite a difficult qualifying session and the windy conditions seemed to have a big impact on our car. In terms of performance, I think we are where we predicted because we knew Q2 was achievable and we managed to get the maximum from the car. For tomorrow, we know this is a race where anything can happen: it's unpredictable and sometimes you have to be patient. We need to see what the weather is like because the wind and track temperature will play a big part. Whatever happens, I will work hard to have a competitive race and target some points.

Vijay Mallya, Team Principal and Managing Director
Having two cars in Q2 is an encouraging sign after a challenging pre-season and it is testament to the hard work everyone in the team has put in during the winter months. To have Nico and Checo within a thousandth of a second of each other shows that they really pushed the car to its limit. The midfield appears to be very close, with a very small margin between six or seven cars so I expect a very interesting race tomorrow. Traditionally our race pace has been a strength so hopefully we can take the fight to the cars ahead of us.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Marcus Ericsson:
It was a disappointing session for me being P16, and we cannot be satisfied with this result. I had quite a good feeling in the car yesterday, but today I have been struggling to feel confident, especially in the braking zones. We need to analyses the data tonight to see what we have changed from yesterday, so that we can learn from that and fight back during the race. Tomorrow is a new day.

Felipe Nasr:
As a team we can be happy that we nearly made it into Q3. Missing FP1 on Friday affected the performance of the car to a certain extent, and I also had less time getting to know the new track in Melbourne. All in all I am satisfied with the result and I am looking forward to the race. Tomorrow is an important day with it being my first ever Formula One race, and we are going to push for points.

Will Stevens
It goes without saying that I'm disappointed that we ran out of time for qualifying. Disappointed not just for me, but for the whole team, because the effort this week has been tremendous. What matters most is that we're here, so we have to focus on that fact and look to the future. We knew it would be difficult, that we would experience some challenges and that is what happened, but we are better placed for the next few races and that in itself justifies the hard work over the past few days.

Roberto Merhi
A tough way to start the season but we have worked together to try to overcome our problems and already I feel a big part of the team. They are like a family and it is nice to see the true spirit, even if we had hoped for more this weekend. Certainly we came here to go racing and it is difficult that we haven't been able to get the cars out but that leaves me feeling all the more determined to work hard with everybody to push for more in the coming races.

John Booth, Team Principal
We have come such a long way in an incredibly short space of time, so to miss out on qualifying is of course very disappointing. One always has to look at the silver lining in these situations and ours is that we have identified, worked through and ironed out a number of very challenging issues in the field and that experience will stand us in good stead as we move forward from here. This is a team that has met and overcome many difficulties, both in the past few months and at other stages of our racing history. There are very good things ahead for us and that is where our focus lies. For now, well done to everyone in our team. We can all feel justifiably proud of our achievements so far.

Carlos Sainz
I'm very happy, it feels great to be starting my first ever Formula 1 race from P8 on the grid tomorrow! It was quite a smooth qualifying session apart from Q1, where I made a small mistake, but I didn't let that affect me and from then onwards everything went really well. I just kept focused and tuned the car to my liking to extract its full potential. I feel very comfortable in the car, I'm really enjoying myself a lot. It's difficult to know what to expect tomorrow, as it will be my first race, but I'm looking forward to it. It will surely be a bit of an adventure but this is what I've been preparing myself for the whole winter and I feel ready.

Max Verstappen
Today's final practice was good for me to get back running again and try some different set-ups, so it was very useful before going into qualifying. I felt good in the car from the start and did a good Q1. The first run in Q2 was reasonable, even though I had something stuck in my back so my shoulder hurt a bit. Unfortunately, I didn't get a good lap because the tires were not ready. During the second push-lap, I made a mistake out of Turn 4, where I went a bit too wide and lost the rear, losing quite a lot of time. It's a shame but I can't change any of this now. I look forward to tomorrow, my first ever Formula 1 race. The car is working well and hopefully we will be able to score some points as we have a good race pace.

James Key (Technical Director)
What's important to highlight from today is the fact that it was both Max and Carlos' first ever Formula 1 qualifying session. It was a new experience for them in a very tightly-packed environment here and slightly trickier conditions out on track than what we've had all weekend. So it was a challenge for them but they managed to keep it together, they built-up extremely well with each new set of tires and they adapted to the program extremely well. Most of our work leading up to today has been on long-runs, tire management and race performance, so to go into qualifying and do as well as they did I think is excellent. It was tough for Max not to get into Q3, he had a little bit of a mistake in his Q2 run which cost him a couple of tenths which would've been enough to make the cut, but I'm sure he will be more than okay tomorrow. Carlos did an outstanding job to get into Q3 in his first ever qualifying session. To be P8 is good, this is a strong start for tomorrow.

Lineup:

Pos Driver Car Time Behind
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes/Mercedes 1m26.327s 0.000s
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes/Mercedes 1m26.921s 0.594s
3 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m27.718s 1.391s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari/Ferrari 1m27.757s 1.430s
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari/Ferrari 1m27.790s 1.463s
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m28.087s 1.760s
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m28.329s 2.002s
8 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso/Renault 1m28.510s 2.183s
9 Romain Grosjean Lotus/Mercedes 1m28.560s 2.233s
10 Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Mercedes 1m29.480s 3.153s
11 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1m28.800s Q2
12 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso/Renault 1m28.868s Q2
13 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull/Renault 1m29.070s Q2
14 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m29.208s Q2
15 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m29.209s Q2
16 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m31.376s Q1
17 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1m31.422s Q1
18 Kevin Magnussen McLaren/Honda 1m32.037s Q1
19 Will Stevens Manor/Ferrari No Time
20 Roberto Merhi Manor/Ferrari No Time

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