Lewis Hamilton stormed to pole position in Australia, while Red Bull ran Ferrari pretty close in behind.
Lewis Hamilton: "It's the greatest feeling when you live up to your potential and you pull out a lap like I was able to. I'm not always able to do that but I was really happy with today's performance. Up until this point, I haven't thought at all about the race. So tonight and tomorrow morning I'll start to put my focus onto that. Last season, Ferrari ultimately did a better job on Sunday. But we generally learn from mistakes and scenarios like that, so I'm hoping we're better prepared for tomorrow. Ultimately it's also how I'm able to manage the tyres at the start of the race. I remember Sebastian was really at my tail towards the end of my stint which forced me to come into the pits and then he continued on for several laps and I got stuck behind Verstappen. So I'll definitely bear that in mind and try my best to make sure that I'm in a better position tomorrow. I know how hard Valtteri has been working and I know the pain he feels right now, but he will recover. He was very quick through practice and he has been putting a lot of effort into growing as a driver and as a member of the team. I have all the confidence in him to pull through again tomorrow."
Valtteri Bottas: "I think I was just pushing a bit too hard. I went wide in Turn 1 and the kerb was still a bit damp. I lost the rear of the car and hit the wall outside of Turn 2. It's very unfortunate and I feel sorry for the team because we have a really competitive car. It looked like it was damaged pretty badly, so I really hope we can fix it for the race. Overtaking is difficult on this track, but we'll try everything we can. Maybe it's a little easier this year with the added DRS zone, we'll find out tomorrow. We have a good car, so I'll try to fight back the best I can. Once we get the car in the window, it seems like it's really quick, so that's something positive from today."
Kimi Raikkonen: “Today we did not really know what to expect from this first qualifying, it was a bit of an unknown. But then I was pretty happy with the car, the feeling was ok. The gap to our rivals is probably bigger than we wanted, but it was not a very straightforward day either. This is a very special circuit in many ways, if compared to “normal” tracks, and these are the early stages of the season. I think we have to wait for the next few races to have a clear picture and understand where the teams are exactly. For sure there are things to improve to go faster; I know there are areas where I could improve on my lap times. This is what we have got today, a decent result in quite tricky conditions. Tomorrow we’ll put our maximum effort into the race.”
Sebastian Vettel: “Yesterday it didn’t feel like everything was perfect, so today I am pretty happy that we could put both cars right at the front, very close to pole. I guess it’s a good shot. The gap to Lewis is significant of course, and we don’t want to be so far behind. But the car today was getting better and better: I could feel it was coming alive during qualifying; on my last run I made a small mistake at Turn 13, but it’s ok as second and third position are good for the race and, as we have seen in all the past years, we tend to be closer on Sunday than we are in qualifying.”
Max Verstappen: “Even with a small mistake I really enjoyed Qualifying today. It’s difficult to say what I expected heading into the session but it should have been a little bit better. I made a mistake on my last fast lap and went wide at turn 13 which lost me a few tenths compared to my previous run, we were still very close to Ferrari which is positive but maybe we could have been second. Mercedes were quite far ahead as expected, had I not made my mistake I think I would have only been about half a second off Lewis which is closer than in the past. All things considered and with the right strategy I think we can be competitive during the race tomorrow, with Mercedes I’m not sure but I think we can have a good fight with Ferrari. We are hoping to go a bit longer with our tyre selection so if we stay out of trouble at the start we can settle in and have a strong race. I am happy with the pace and feel for the first race weekend, so I’m hopeful we can improve and move forward from here, not just tomorrow but for the rest of the season.”
Daniel Ricciardo: “The session itself didn’t go too badly, it started off pretty well and even in Q2 on the Supersofts we were looking good. I aborted the second run, but nonetheless we were looking alright. In the last part of Q3 we just missed a bit in the first sector, I’m not totally sure where the time is so we’ll have to look at that. Overall, the car didn’t feel too bad, we asked for a bit more front grip but we’d used all the front wing we had, so there was no more we could do in Q3. Obviously starting eighth because of the penalty is frustrating and I thought it was unjust. There are reprimands, fines and other things but to shoot me in the ankle before the season starts, well, I think they could have done better. We’re the only ones in the top 10 staring on the Supersoft so hopefully that helps us and ideally the leaders have trouble making the one stop work with the Ultrasoft and we capitalise there. It’s going to be pretty tricky to overtake so strategy will be key. The race pace looks pretty good and I’m looking forward to coming through the field. We’re obviously better than eighth so we will try and make it happen. To be honest, I feel sorry for the guys in front of me tomorrow as they’re the ones I’m going to have to take my anger out on.”