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Australian Grand Prix: Qualifying Recap

Event: Qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix (Round 1 of 21)

Date: Saturday, March 16

Location: Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit

Layout: 5.303-kilometer (3.295-mile), 16-turn track

Weather: Sunny and clear

Pole Winner: Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes (1:20.486 – new track record)

Result: Romain Grosjean qualified 6th / Kevin Magnussen qualified 7th

Q1 Rundown:

Lasts 18 minutes, with all 20 drivers participating

Fastest 15 drivers advance to Q2

Magnussen: 6th overall (1:22.519), advanced to Q2

Grosjean: 14th overall (1:22.959), advanced to Q2

Fastest Driver: Charles Leclerc of Scuderia Ferrari (1:22.017)

Cutoff: 15th overall Kimi Räikkönen of Alfa Romeo (1:22.966)

Q2 Rundown:

Lasts 15 minutes, featuring the 15 fastest drivers from Q1

Fastest 10 drivers advance to Q3

Grosjean: 5th overall (1:21.870), advanced to Q3

Magnussen: 7th overall (1:22.221), advanced to Q3

Fastest Driver: Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes (1:21.014)

Cutoff: 10th overall Sergio Perez of Racing Point (1:22.532)

Q3 Rundown:

Lasts 12 minutes, featuring the 10 fastest drivers from Q2, all battling for the pole

Grosjean: 6th overall (1:21.826)

Magnussen: 7th overall (1:22.099)

Pole Winner: Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes (1:20.486)

Second: Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes (1:20.598)

Rich Energy Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen earned strong starting positions for Sunday’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix by advancing to the final round of knockout qualifying Saturday at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit. The duo qualified sixth and seventh, respectively, as the American squad placed both its drivers into Q3.

Magnussen set the sixth-fastest time in Q1 with a lap of 1:22.519 around the 5.303-kilometer (3.295-mile), 16-turn track. Grosjean was seventh quickest with a lap of 1:22.959. Only the top-15 drivers move on to Q2. 

In Q2, Grosjean earned the fifth-fastest time with a lap of 1:21.870 and Magnussen was seventh with a lap of 1:22.221, allowing each driver to make the top-10 cutoff and advance to Q3.

Q3 featured the heavy hitters of Formula One, with five-time and reigning champion Mercedes, 16-time champion Scuderia Ferrari and four-time champion Red Bull all represented. Rich Energy Haas F1 Team held its own among these giants, with Grosjean qualifying a best-of-the-rest sixth with a lap of 1:21.826 and Magnussen taking seventh with a lap of 1:22.099.

Both Grosjean and Magnussen ran exclusively on the Pirelli P Zero Red soft tire throughout qualifying.

Taking the pole for the Australian Grand Prix was Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. His fast lap of 1:20.486 set a new track qualifying record at Melbourne and was .112 of a second better than runner-up and teammate Valtteri Bottas. It was Hamilton’s 84th career Formula One pole, his third in a row dating back to last season, and his eighth in the Australian Grand Prix, which includes a run of six straight. The last driver not named Hamilton to start from the pole in the Australian Grand Prix was Sebastian Vettel in 2013 when he drove for Red Bull.

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. Both drivers ran similar programs, beginning with an installation lap on the White hard tire before switching to softs for the remainder of the session.

Grosjean ran 17 laps and set the fourth-fastest time with a 1:23.112 on his 13th tour. Magnussen tallied 15 laps and also earned his best time on his 13th lap – a 1:23.334 that put him .222 of a second behind his teammate in fifth.

Quickest in FP3 was Hamilton, whose fast lap of 1:22.292 was .264 of a second better than next best Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari.

Romain Grosjean:

“P6 on the grid, that’s good. It’s been a good day, especially with Kevin (Magnussen) up there too. The car’s been performing well, on a track that we’ve always been competitive at, so that’s good. It’s the first time we’ve really run the full qualifying set-up, so that’s been interesting for us to discover a bit more. The car worked well, and we’re pretty much where we thought we were. There are maybe some surprises in the pecking order, but I’m very happy with our day. I think our race pace looks as good as we did in qualifying. We’ll keep pushing, keep delivering, and hopefully we’ll score some strong points to start the year.”

Kevin Magnussen:

“I didn’t quite have the perfect qualifying session on my side, I made a mistake on my first tire in Q1, which meant I had to use another set, leaving me with only one new set for Q3. That’s my bad, but fortunately the car was very good. I’m very proud of the team with what they’ve done to put such a good car on track again this year. They did a great job incorporating the new rule changes to allow us to maintain a competitive car. We’re not even that far from the guys at the front, we’re not fighting them, but we’re not too far. Hopefully we can build on this tomorrow and score some good points.”

Guenther Steiner:

“It was a very good qualifying. The team worked very well over the winter to get us prepared. We simply executed today with what the team has done over the last ten months to develop the car and through testing. It’s a very good day for Rich Energy Haas F1 Team, thanks go to the whole team.”


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