Lewis Hamilton won pole position for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix as he started the new season where he left the last.

The world champion, who is looking to repeat his win in Melbourne in 2008, won all three testing sessions on Saturday to give teammate Nico Rosberg a reminder that he still has much to do. Rosberg will be second on the grid on Sunday but was a little over half a second slower than Hamilton. It was the British driver’s 39thpole and his fourth at Albert Park. Hamilton won pole here last year, though the race went to Rosberg.

“It’s a great start to the weekend,” Hamilton said. “I don’t feel it’s been a long time since the last race.”

Rosberg shrugged: “Lewis has been on impressive form and did an awesome job. It’s not a great start for me but the team have given me a great car to work with.”

Behind the Mercedes on the grid will be Felipe Massa (Williams), Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen (both Ferrari) and Valtteri Bottas (Williams).

McLaren came here with modest expectations as they continued to bed in their new Honda engine. But this was still one of the blackest days in their Formula One history. They will start at the back of the grid, because Manor were unable to run and will take no part in the race. It was a brutal result for a team that has won more Australian Grands Prix (12) than any other team.

“I was always thinking long term when I re-signed,” Button said. “I really do think that in the end we can challenge the Mercedes at the front. This a new package, not just in terms of the engine but the philosophy behind it, the aerodynamics and airflow. I’d rather not be at the back of the grid but I am not sitting here downhearted. It is a tough time now and there will be tough times for many weeks, but it will make us stronger. We have not done a race distance. So if we finish the race tomorrow, it may not sound much, but it will help a lot.”

In view of the fact that Hamilton was on slower tyres, the real gap between him and Button was about 4.5 seconds.

The casualties in Q2 were the Force India’s of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez, Felipe Nasr (Sauber), Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso) and Daniil Kvyat (Red Bull). Nasr, though, went within 0.076s of making it to Q3; some effort after the legal problems the team have had this week.



Valtteri Bottas: It was a very productive Friday; whilst Felipe was unlucky with a technical problem and lost some running, we managed to complete our run programme and get as prepared as we can for qualifying and the race. Straight out of the box the car felt good; it was particularly good in the long runs and the tyres felt consistent with not much drop off in performance. We can still find improvements in the short run pace and do more to unlock the tyre performance over one lap, so that will be a focus in tomorrow’s third practice session.
Felipe Massa: It’s a bit disappointing to have only run in one session today; a water leak in the power unit required a repair. The more you run the more you understand the best direction to take with the set-up and what the track conditions are like, but at least I managed to get some valuable laps under my belt in the morning and the overall feeling from the car is positive. It’s also good to identify any problems early on rather than experiencing them in qualifying or the race.
Romain: “It feels great to get out on track and get some laps at Albert Park, especially with such a lovely day here. I was happy not just for the weather as the car feels pretty good and the whole team is very positive at the potential we have. Certainly missing much of the first session was not to plan, but we know the issue and I’ve every confidence we’ll have it sorted for tomorrow. It’s the kind of thing you encounter in the early season. The big plus is the car feels good and I think we should be able to go well this weekend.”

Pastor: “I was happy with my time in the car today and the E23 feels pretty strong. For sure, we missed some of the second session, but the issue was easy to diagnose so the team is working on a solution. As always for the first day of running here, the track was improving all the time, but we were able to run good evaluations between us so we have plenty of info for building on today’s work. Our post-session debriefs have been very promising so it’s great to start the season with a real positive vibe.”

Nico Hülkenberg: “It was a fairly normal Friday with everything running smoothly. The long run performance was pretty good, especially the feeling and confidence I had with the car. So the balance is okay; it’s just that we need to find some more performance, especially over a single lap. With almost 50 laps today I think we are quite well prepared going into the weekend.”
Sergio Perez: “It was a day when we were able to achieve the objectives and hit our targets in terms of mileage – so that’s positive. We did a lot of work with both the soft and medium tyre compounds, and I think we’ve already got a good understanding of how they perform. In terms of my feeling with the car, there is still a lot to improve, but it’s the first day of the season and the first chance I’ve had to do proper performance work. There is a lot we need to learn from the data and a lot of decisions to be taken tonight.”
DANIIL KVYAT: “Everything went quite well and according to plan today – everything felt good. We will do what we can tonight to prepare for tomorrow. It’s too early to see where we are compared to the others as yet – but we’ll see where we can improve overnight. Tomorrow we will know more.”
FDANIEL RICCIARDO: “In FP1 it took us a while to get going and we didn’t get out straight away. A problem with the ICE meant we couldn’t run in FP2, but it’s a problem that we can fix for tomorrow. There’s a lot of time to do what we need, so there’s no concerns – it wasn’t worth rushing it to get five laps this afternoon. We don’t believe it will affect one of the four engines, so it’s not a massive shot in the foot. I will look at what Daniil learnt in FP2 to get a direction for tomorrow – the circuit felt pretty rubbered in already in the morning so I should be able to get up to speed tomorrow. I’ve got to get these ants out of my pants now – I’m hanging out to drive! It’s been a bit of a tease all week, talking about driving, and now I just want to get out there.”

F1Weekly podcast # 673

Clark and Nasir prepare themselves for the start of the 2015 Formula 1 season, they try to understand Fernando Alonso’s trip to 1995. We have Motorsports Mondial with the king and…We bring you the latest news on this weeks GP2 Testing at Yas Marina…

Richie Stanaway quickest at Yas Marina …Status Grand Prix driver sets fastest laptime on Day 3

The final day of the pre-season testing at Yas Marina opened once again in windy conditions. Alexander Rossi was the first driver to feed onto the track, closely followed by teammate Jordan King, but it was Stoffel Vandoorne who was the early pace setter. The proceedings were halted within the first forty minutes after Artem Markelov stopped on track at Turn 7. When the pitlane went green again, some drivers switched to super soft Pirelli tyres and put their visor down. Raffaele Marciello was the first man to dip under 1m50s, but Mitch Evans bettered the Italian’s laptime to break the 1m49s barrier. Vandoorne went even quicker and set a laptime of 1:48.921 just as a second red flag period occurred courtesy of Evans who stopped at Turn 9.
The session restarted and on the one hour mark, Marciello improved again, enough to edge Vandoorne out of the top spot. Evans went back on track and was able to go even faster in a 1:48.850 and took control of the timesheet. At the halfway mark, Richie Stanaway went top with a laptime four tenths quicker and sat pretty at the head of the standings until the chequered flag dropped. Pierre Gasly surged to second in the closing stages ahead of Evans, Marciello, Rossi, Vandoorne, Alex Lynn, Rio Haryanto, Sergey Sirotkin and Arthur Pic.
After a one hour break, the pitlane reopened for the afternoon session and Haryanto was the early pace setter. At the halfway point, Lynn went top, one tenth quicker than the Indonesian driver. The proceedings were halted after Rossi went off track and lightly hit the barrier at Turn 8. The session restarted with one hour remaining but there was another short interruption after Zoel Amberg stopped at Turn 14. The session resumed and Sirotkin found some extra pace to clock in a laptime of 1:49.158 and moved up to P1.
A final red flag stalled proceedings, courtesy of Markelov who stopped on the straight/finish line. At the restart, there were ten minutes left on the clock for a final shoot out and for the drivers to put their last set of super soft tyres to good use, which is exactly what Pic did moving up to P2. A double yellow flag in sector 2 in the dying minutes however ruined any last attempt to shine as Sirotkin stopped at Turn 19.
The Russian thus remained unchallenged until the chequered flag, but thanks to his morning laptime, Stanaway finished the first pre-season test on top. The next test session will take place on April 01-02-03 at Sakhir International Circuit.

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Rob Smedley
On the back of what has been a really good winter test where we met all of our objectives we are heading to Melbourne in a really positive frame of mind. Melbourne is always a really interesting race as there are so many unknowns. There are always a few surprises as the competitive pecking order is established. As it’s a street circuit the grip will develop and improve throughout the weekend. The car starts off with a lot of understeer on the dirty circuit and later in the weekend the rear tyres can become the limitation. In the cooler conditions the front tyre graining can be an issue too so we need to have done our homework on both scenarios for the race. We have been testing at circuits that don’t play fully to the strengths of the FW37 so we are looking forward to the first few races which should suit the FW37s characteristics more.
Valtteri Bottas
A new season and the first time we see where everyone is competitively. The weekend will be interesting but also important as we have to be able to have a strong start and make sure we gain the most from the weekend, especially as other teams improve. You never know how other teams will progress throughout the season, so points here are key. I like Melbourne, the first race is really when the gloves come off so qualifying will be an exciting session.
Felipe Massa
Being the first race, Australia is important and normally holds a few surprises. All of the hard work over the winter gets its first rewards here, but it can also show a sign of how much work is still to be done. It’s important to start well and give yourself potentially a head start over your competitors. Australia is a tough track though and the rear stability is important. I also hope that I personally have a better start to the season than last year!


Pierre Gasly tops Day 1 at Yas Marina

DAMS quickest in opening pre-season test day
The 2015 GP2 Series pre-season tests got underway today at the Yas Marina Circuit. Day one of the three day test saw all twenty-six drivers eager to try out the brand new DRS on their cars. When the pitlane went green, Alexander Rossi was the first man out soon followed by the rest of the field for their installation laps on a dirty track and in windy conditions.
The first two hours were studious with teams focusing on aero testing. With one hour left on the clock, the session was suspended for thirty minutes for software adjustments. When it resumed, Jordan King went quickest, but his time was bettered first by Rene Binder and then by Rossi.
In the closing stages, the session was red flagged after Stockinger stopped on track at Turn 5. With eight minutes left on the clock, the track went live again and the cars enjoyed a cleaner track with Rossi topping the timesheet at the chequered flag with a laptime of 1:50.845 ahead of DAMS’ pair Pierre Gasly and Alex Lynn.
In the afternoon, Zoel Amberg fed onto the track first, but it was Stoffel Vandoorne who topped the timesheets in the first hour, dipping under 1m50s. Gasly went quicker in a 1:49.760 – 3 hundredths better than the Belgian driver. Halfway through the session, Mitch Evans found some extra pace to clock the circuit in 1:49.598. Rio Haryanto also improved, moving up to P2, but he remained 2 tenths slower than the New Zealander.
There was a red flag period in the final hour after Julian Leal stopped at turn 17. The proceedings resumed with 30 minutes left on the clock. King went top ahead of Sergey Sirotkin, but Gasly went even quicker to snatch P1 with ten minutes remaining with a laptime of 1:49.089. Arthur Pic broke into the 1m48s, but so did Gasly who remained top ahead of the Campos man with a laptime of 1:48.897.
At the chequered flag, Gasly and Pic were P1 and P2 ahead of Trident’s duo of Raffaele Marciello and Binder who moved up to third and fourth respectively in the dying minutes. Sirotkin finished fifth ahead of Evans, Haryanto, Rossi and Lynn.


Honda Racing confirms driver line-up for 2015 BTCC

  • Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal team up for sixth consecutive season at Honda Racing
  • Former BTCC Champions revved up for title battle
  • Consistency a key factor ahead of unpredictable tin-top campaign 

Honda Racing will enter the 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) with consistency firmly on its side, after confirming an unchanged driver line-up of Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal.

Renowned for its innovative and creative approach, Honda boasts an impressive track record in the BTCC – the UK’s premier motor sport series – with no fewer than 22 titles to its credit.  Over the 20 years that Honda has been involved in the fiercely competitive series, the constructor has claimed four outright drivers’ crowns and six overall team championships.

With the forthcoming season speeding rapidly into sight, both drivers are champing at the bit to take to the track and show the opposition just what they are capable of – and are confident of celebrating the manufacturer’s 20th birthday in the championship in fine style.

“We’ve shown over the past few seasons that we’re never afraid to push back the boundaries and come up with something different and new that really engages the fans,” underlined 2012 BTCC Champion Shedden, who finished third in the drivers’ standings last year with three victories to his name. “The Civic Tourer was fantastic for us and created history in many ways, and I’m sure what we have planned for this year will generate a bigger buzz still!

“We approach every new season with optimism, and the goal remains the same – to try to win the championship. The priority as ever will be the manufacturers’ championship for Honda, followed by the teams’ title for Team Dynamics – and of course, both Matt and I are keen to get to the last round and still be in with a shout of lifting the drivers’ crown.”

Neal endured a more challenging 2014 campaign, finding himself plagued by ill-fortune and all too often on the receiving end of rivals’ mistakes, but as a three-time title-winner, he knows exactly what it takes to win in the cut-and-thrust of the world’s toughest touring car championship.

“The anticipation surrounding Honda’s new car for 2015 is immense and we can’t wait to show it off,” he enthused. “I’m confident it will be a step forward in every area and a very potent weapon.

“We had a difficult season at times in 2014, but that only gives us renewed motivation to climb back to the top. We still have massive self-belief in our ability to build and run a front-running touring car, and we are ready to put up one hell of a fight!”

“We are delighted to re-confirm ‘Flash’ and Matt for a sixth season at Honda Racing,” added Honda UK Managing Director Philip Crossman. “They have demonstrated time and again that not only are they ultra-committed racers and proven winners – champions, indeed – but also that they are consummate team players.

“Their strong working relationship will be pivotal over the coming months as we seek to reclaim the manufacturers’, teams’ and drivers’ crowns for Honda – and we can’t wait to show off the new car in which they will take to the track in 2015.”

Honda’s 2015 BTCC challenger will be officially unveiled at the championship’s Season Launch at Donington Park on 24 March. The opening three rounds of the season will take place at Brands Hatch in Kent over Easter Weekend (4/5 April).

The Premiere Motorsport Podcast