HAMILTON GRABS POLE NO. 50 IN AUSTRALIA
Hamilton is now only the third driver in Formula One history to score 50 or more poles.
Monday March 21, 2016
MELBOURNE, Australia – Lewis Hamilton made the most of the new Formula One quick-fire elimination qualifying format on Saturday, securing his 50th career pole ahead of the season opening Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park.
Hamilton is now only the third driver in Formula One history to score 50 or more poles, joining Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna in the exclusive club.
“I have to take my hat off to the team. What they’ve done to raise the bar once more, for the third year in a row, really inspires and motivates me,” Hamilton said. “I really enjoyed driving the car in qualifying today. We got the setup just right and they were some sexy laps. They felt so good – flowing nicely with no real mistakes. That’s all you can hope for – to always improve – and that’s what we’ve done, so I’m very happy. There’s still a lot of work left to do tonight and especially tomorrow, though. There’s a lot more studying for us drivers with the changes to the radio rules. We can’t be told if the strategy is changing through the race, so we have to be able to anticipate what’s happening if you end up in a different situation than expected. I’m excited. It’s a new thing and I hope it adds to the spectacle. I highly doubt it… but we shall see.”
Under the new system, it was down to a two-way fight with more than five minutes left in Q3, with the slowest four drivers already eliminated and with Ferrari opting not to send Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen out again because the team didn’t think they could improve.
At that point those times put them second and fourth respectively and it took a late second run from Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg to dislodge Vettel.
Max Verstappen took an impressive fifth for Toro Rosso, followed by the Williams of Felipe Massa and the second Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr., with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo completing the top eight.
Eliminated in round two and starting ninth and 10th were the Force India entries of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg.
The debuting American Haas F1 Team got off to a rough start, with drivers Esteban Gutierrez and Romain Grosjean having a hard time getting up to speed. They were both quickly eliminated in Q1, with Grosjean scored 19th and Gutierrez scored 20th.