Saturday, March 26, 2011

Reigning F1 Champ Vettel Defense Starts with Australian GP Pole

Photo Credit: Mercedes GP

With the start of the 2011 Formula 1 season delayed to the due cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix amid government protests and regional instability, the extra time gave the multi-million dollar teams much-needed additional time to ready for the season debut in Australian.

Convening for the 2011 Australian Grand Prix, drivers and teams of Formula 1 will competition quickly find out if the sporting moves made in the off-season would play off on grand prix weekends. Question swirl ahead of Formula 1 cars making their first laps in competition. Will the Red Bull Racing squad’s with 2010 champion Sebastian Vettel repeat their magical year in 2011? Could McLaren, Ferrari or even another team emerge as revitalized challengers for 2011 Formula 1 glory? How will the Lotus saga play out on the racetrack between two separate teams? Will Pirelli gain respect in the first race as the grand prix grid’s sole tire supplier? As engines started for Formula 1 qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix, racing fans gain the first pieces of evidence to solving these questions.

Right from the start of Q1, the leading early combatants for the 2011 Formula 1 season was established as Red Bull Racing and McLaren. 2010 Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel was in top form early in the Red Bull-Renault beating Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren-Mercedes Q1 time by less than 1/10th of a second. Amongst the top drivers in Q1, sophomore Formula 1 pilot Vitaly Petrov soared in the newly minted Lotus-Renault GP team. The Russian Petrov was 3rd fastest in Q1 and eventually placed 6th fastest at the end of Australian Grand Prix qualifying.

In Q2, Red Bull and McLaren continued to dice for the front positions at the Australian Grand Prix track. Button took the early but Sebastian Vettel would soon attack to Albert Park circuit posting a top time at 1:24.090 to repeat as qualifying session leader.

A few cars and drivers met with misadventures through Q2 of the first qualifying session of 2011. Overrunning a turn, Rubens Barricello’s beached his Williams found the sand trap early in the second qualifying grouping. In a more dramatic display later, Ardian Sutil lost control out of the final turn as the driver was laying power onto the Albert Park circuit. Spinning his Force India-Mercedes ahead of the start-finish line on the front stretch, Sutil kept the Formula 1 car out of the walls regaining control.

Fighting for respect, Mercedes GP drivers Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher returned in 2011. Early on in Australia, Rosberg continued to outpace his teammate; the 7-time champion Schumacher. Progressing through all three sessions of qualifying, Nico Rosberg would obtain a 7th place start for the Sunday main event. Topping his best lap effort, Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes GP car just missed the 10-car field for Q3 qualifying ending 11th for the beginning of the Australian Grand Prix.

Shooting first, the McLaren Formula 1 team drivers unloaded their machines on the Albert Park track at the start of Q3. The McLaren-Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton led that charge just about 10 seconds ahead of teammate Jenson Button. On his early hot lap, Hamilton delivered a 1:24.501 second time. In the second McLaren-Mercedes, Button fell short of his teammate by 3/10th of a second. Taking first and second spot early in Q3, McLaren would for face a final challenge from the Red Bull Racing duo.

Leading the Austrian-based group, the reigning Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel delivered a shockingly fast effort little more than 30 seconds following the McLaren cars clocked the racetrack. Finding speed that would prove unmatchable, Vettel posted a fastest lap of 1:23.529 seconds. Beating eventual 2nd place in Q3 driver Lewis Hamilton by 0.778 seconds, the Red Bull Racing driver was the only driver throughout the Australian Grand Prix qualifying to enter the 1 minute, 23 second territory.

Taking the pole position for the 2011 Australian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel repeats his Formula 1 qualifying performance last season. Vettel’s Red Bull teammate Mark Webber improved greatly through the session picking up from an 8th fastest run in Q1 to a 3rd place starting spot for his home grand prix. The second McLaren of Jenson Button will start 4th on Sunday followed by the Ferrari driven by Fernando Alonso.

For the first grand prix of the 2011 Formula 1 season, 22 cars will line the grid for the 58-lap event. Bumped out of the race are the HRT F1 drivers of Narain Karthikeyan and Vitantonio Liuzzi who failed to meet Formula 1’s newly reinstituted 107 percent qualifying time rule.

2011 Australian Grand Prix
Starting Grid

Pos # | Car # | Driver | Team

1. 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing
2. 3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren
3. 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing
4. 4 Jenson Button McLaren
5. 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
6. 10 Vitaly Petrov Lotus Renault GP
7. 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP
8. 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari
9. 16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber
10. 18 Sebastien Buemi Scuderia Toro Rosso
11. 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP
12. 19 Jaime Alguersuari Scuderia Toro Rosso
13. 17 Sergio Pérez Sauber
14. 15 Paul di Resta Force India
15. 12 Pastor Maldonado Williams F1
16. 14 Adrian Sutil Force India
17. 11 Rubens Barrichello Williams F1
18. 9 Nick Heidfeld Lotus Renault GP
19. 21 Heikki Kovalainen Team Lotus
20. 20 Jarno Trulli Team Lotus
21. 24 Timo Glock Marussia Virgin Racing
22. 25 Jérôme D’Ambrosio Marussia Virgin Racing

Did Not Qualify

23. 23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT F1
24. 22 Narain Karthikeyan HRT F1

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