Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton will start Sunday’s Formula One season opening Australian Grand Prix from pole position leading team mate Nico Rosberg in an all Mercedes front row lock-out.
Although the pair dominated the session, the talking point was how the new qualifying format DOES NOT work. However speaking after claiming pole position, Hamilton stated:
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. 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.
While neither Mercedes drivers were openly critical of the new qualifying format, Head of Mercedes Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff certainly was saying:
First, it’s good to finally be back on track – especially with our cars on the front row after all the hard work over the winter. Congratulations to the whole team on a top job – and to Lewis on an impressive pole. Second, we need to look at the qualifying format again. I’m the first person to say that we shouldn’t talk the sport down but when the evidence is there before your eyes, you cannot shut them and deny reality. The new format is pretty rubbish – much too complicated to follow and a damp squib at the end with nobody running. These were the downsides that we expected to see – and they outweigh the upsides, that much is clear now. We wanted to listen to the promoters who were calling for a change – but my personal opinion is that we have found the wrong solution and we need to think carefully about what we do next.
Mercedes Executive Director, Technical, Paddy Lowe commented by saying:
As I said before the weekend, qualifying here is the most important hour of the year. It’s where you really see what kind of car you’ve got for the season and the first time you meet your competitors head on, on the limit, at maximum power and minimum weight. So, it’s been a very tense build-up to this session as always – and a hugely satisfying conclusion to see that we have a quick car once again. Congratulations today go to everyone at Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart, who have been involved in this project over many months, for a tremendous achievement. Both drivers put in good laps today and the forecast is looking better for tomorrow, so we look forward to a good race.