Australian Grand Prix 2016 – Qualifying

Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia. Saturday 19 March 2016. Valtteri Bottas, Williams FW38 Mercedes. Photo: Glenn Dunbar/McLaren ref: Digital Image _W2Q2649

Qualifying Notes 
• Felipe Massa qualified sixth and Valtteri Bottas 11th for the Australian Grand Prix.
• In the new qualifying system, both drivers cleared Q1 with no problems.
• Valtteri was eliminated during Q2 after struggling for grip on his final lap.
• Both drivers set their fastest laps on supersoft tyres.
• Valtteri will be able to choose his race start tyre for tomorrow, whilst Felipe will start on his supersoft tyres from Q2.

Weather: Dry and cool
Temperature: Air: 17-19°C, Track: 24-25°C

F. Massa: 1:25.918 (2nd)
V. Bottas: 1:27.135 (13th)
Quickest Time: L. Hamilton 1:25.351

F. Massa: 1:25.644 (8th)
V. Bottas: 1:25.961 (11th)
Quickest Time: L. Hamilton 1:24.605

F. Massa: 1:25.458 (6th)
Quickest Time: L. Hamilton 1:23.837

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering: We planned this qualifying much more extensively than we would have done with the old regulations. One of the messages we kept giving to the drivers, was there are a few simple rules of this qualifying that we need to get our head around and we managed to do that quite well. We made sensible choices throughout and ended up in a reasonable position. It is certainly much more complicated than the previous qualifying system, and needs a lot more thinking. But as long as you get those few golden rules right, then you’re alright. As for the performance of the car, it was a little bit unfortunate that Valtteri was unable to get through to Q3, but overall the drivers have done a good job. The car is a great baseline. We thought we’d be in that third position in winter testing, and that has more or less proved to be the case. It is very tight between us, Red Bull and Toro Rosso. Now, we need to get our head down and get a little more development, and that is all happening to get ourselves into a more solid third position. We can definitely race from here tomorrow. Valtteri is actually in a good position in P11, because he has a free choice of tyres, so that strategy is wide open for him. Felipe is further up the grid, but having to start on his Q2 supersoft tyres. We did a bit of homework on the race strategy and ticked off a few boxes we needed to understand during FP3, so we are in a reasonably good shape going into the race and hopefully we can come out with some good points.

Felipe Massa: It was a good qualifying. I managed to qualify the best I could, but unfortunately lost out on fifth place by a very small gap. That is the only negative point. I did some good laps and the car behaves well, so I am happy. It is tricky, and not easy, going through the session knowing the countdown is on every few minutes. Fortunately, I didn’t have any problems on my laps, but if you go out in traffic and you have any problems, it could be a lot closer that it was today.

Valtteri Bottas: It was a disappointing session. I was struggling with grip today, so we need to have a look to see if we got everything out of the tyres, the pressure and temperatures. I was hoping to get to Q3, but tomorrow is a new day and from 11th it is still possible to have a good race.

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