Haas F1 Team drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean earned strong starting positions for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix by advancing to the final round of knockout qualifying on Saturday at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit. The duo qualified sixth and seventh, respectively, but will start fifth and sixth in the 20-car field as fifth-place qualifier Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull incurred a three-spot grid penalty.
The American squad placed both its drivers into Q3 for only the second time in team history. The last time Haas F1 Team had both its pilots in the final round of qualifying was at the 2016 Japanese Grand Prix when Grosjean qualified eighth and Esteban Gutiérrez qualified 10th. The 2018 Australian Grand Prix marks the best collective qualifying effort by Haas F1 Team, and it comes in the organization’s 42nd race.
Grosjean set the eighth-fastest time in Q1 with a lap of 1:23.671 around the 5.303-kilometer (3.295-mile), 16-turn track. Magnussen was 11th quickest with a lap of 1:23.909. Only the top-15 drivers move on to Q2.
In Q2, Magnussen earned the eighth-fastest time with a lap of 1:23.300 and Grosjean was right behind him in ninth with a lap of 1:23.468, allowing each driver to make the top-10 cutoff and advance to Q3.
Q3 featured the heavy hitters of Formula One, with four-time and reigning champion Mercedes, four-time champion Red Bull and 16-time champion Scuderia Ferrari all represented. Haas F1 Team held its own among these giants, with Magnussen qualifying sixth with a lap of 1:23.187 and Grosjean following seventh with a lap of 1:23.339.
Both Magnussen and Grosjean ran exclusively on the Pirelli P Zero Purple ultrasoft tire throughout qualifying.
Taking the pole for the Australian Grand Prix was Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. His fast lap of 1:21.164 beat his own track qualifying record at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit and was .664 of a second better than runner-up Kimi Räikkönen of Scuderia Ferrari. It was Hamilton’s 73rd career Formula One pole and his seventh in the Australian Grand Prix. Hamilton has now won the pole for the Australian Grand Prix five straight times.
Before Grosjean, Magnussen and the rest of their Formula One counterparts participated in knockout qualifying, they had one final practice (FP3) to dial in their racecars for a quick lap around the track. Rain left the circuit saturated, which meant drivers first ventured out using the Pirelli Cinturato Blue full wet tire. But with the rain having abated, the track soon began to dry, allowing teams to transition to the Green intermediate tire.
Grosjean ran six laps and set the 15th-fastest time with a 1:36.171 on his fifth tour. Magnussen tallied seven laps and earned his best time on his fourth lap – a 1:36.807 that put him 17th overall. Both drivers earned their quick times on intermediate tires.
Quickest in FP3 was Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, whose fast lap of 1:26.067 was 2.432 seconds better than his teammate, Räikkönen.