Lewis Hamilton with Mercedes says the 0.887s improvement that helped him grab pole position for the Australian Grand Prix was nothing to do with any special mode on his engine.
Hamilton had topped the timesheets in the two practice sessions on Friday to confirm his favourite’s tag for both the Australian Grand Prix and the title itself. But he was overhauled by Vettel during the third session, held on Saturday afternoon, as Ferrari began to show their own true pace.
The Brit was still not expecting how close they got to him, Vettel going fastest in Q2. Before Hamilton opened up a gap of six tenths with his stunning pole lap.
“What was surprising was to see how quick the Ferraris were,” Hamilton said. During that lap I was in the same modes as before. But it was hooking up the tyres and getting the lap together.”
Vettel himself thought he would be able to challenge Hamilton for pole after Ferrari made a number of aerodynamic changes before FP3. However, he found himself languishing in third, behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, after pushing slightly too hard during Q3.
“On the last lap I had a bit of a moment into 13, I tried to brake really late and it didn’t work,” Vettel said. – It was really close and it’s exciting for us when it’s that close.
“Shame that Lewis had quite a big gap at the end but I guess his lap was pretty good. Looking forward to tomorrow, I think we improved the car and we’ll see what happens tomorrow. “It’s very close, we saw yesterday on the long runs that pace is very close. It’s not the easiest place to overtake but who knows.
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) March 24, 2018