AUSTRALIAN GP – QUALIFYING
 
MAX VERSTAPPEN, Position: 5th, 1:23.485 (Practice 3 – P12 1:26.269)
 “It’s been a bit of a tough weekend in general, I haven’t done as much running as I would have liked. Qualifying was pretty much the first time I managed to string some laps together uninterrupted. This morning we didn’t have the balance and therefore couldn’t find the rhythm, so we tried a few things that unfortunately didn’t work how we would have liked. Heading into qualifying we found some positives and built it up lap by lap, after that I kept improving, the balance got better and I managed to have a fairly good qualifying. The car is better balanced now but it is clear to see we still a have to gain a bit.  It’s not just in power; we built a car that is efficient on the straights but it means we lose a bit of grip in cornering. I am not disappointed as I think this is about where we expected to be at race 1. Tomorrow it is important for me to have a quick and clean start and let the guys in front battle it out. That could then lead to some opportunities. We will keep working this evening to improve and find some more pace ready for tomorrow’s race.”
 
DANIEL RICCIARDO, Position: DNF*, (Practice 3 – P6 1:25.092)
“That was a tough one today. I don’t crash into the barriers often and the last place I want to do that is at home. But I feel I crashed for the right reason, as I was basically pushing and trying to find the limit and these things happen, so let’s say I’m not disappointed by the approach, it was just more of a frustrating outcome, starting 10th instead of being under the top 5. I feel for the mechanics, because they’ve had a long week and now they’ve got a long night ahead of them. I knew the crowds would have also preferred to see me further up the grid and it would have been nice to put on a better performance than that but tomorrow is where the points are. It’s a chance to create a bigger headline if I have a good race so that’s what will motivate me to do better tomorrow. I made it a bit more difficult for myself but it’s going to be alright. To get a good start in the race will be the key. I saved a set of ultrasofts in Q2, I know that not everyone in front of me has, so maybe that gives me a chance.”
CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal: “A frustrating qualifying for Daniel, unfortunately losing the car in Q3 on his first run where the rear end of the car just got away from him at turn 14, and it looks like the guys have got a bit of work on tonight to get the repairs all sorted in time. Max extracted everything out of the car today. You can see we’ve got some time to make up compared to Mercedes and Ferrari but we are fifth on the grid for tomorrow’s race and hopefully we can make some progress from there.”
*Car 3 will start the race from P10
Ends
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Fake news!
How do you know someone in F1 is lying? Their lips move. Unless they’re a talented ventriloquist, then not even that. Apparently the rest of the planet has caught-up and we’re living in a post-truth world. Fake news is big news – and Spy’s never met a bandwagon he didn’t want to jump on.
Australian GP crowd grows bigly. Just awesome.
The Formula One Group have hailed the new rules package for F1 a tremendous success and claim the popularity of the sport is at an all-time high. Despite tickets still being available for Sunday’s race the commercial rights holder has already declared the Australian Grand Prix a sell-out and produced as evidence an aerial photograph showing heaving spectator areas. When journalists pointed out the event hasn’t started yet and the picture was a) from 2008 and b) actually showing a KISS concert, a spokesman dismissed the claim as a typical response from ardent naysayers.
“We’ll still need more government money,” added Australian Grand Prix promoters.
Sharknado!
The debate over shark fin engine covers continues to rage with teams in the Albert Park holding a last-ditch meeting in a bid to avert all-out fin war. Having gone to great lengths to beautify F1, authorities were understandably vexed when teams decided to ruin the sleek, aggressive aesthetic by bolting an ironing board to the gearbox. Moves have been underway to remove the unsightly fins with protests rumoured. Opponents have pointed to the amount of flex in the oversized engine covers, saying that they could be interpreted as a moveable aerodynamic device. Supporters have countered by pointing out that the shark fins provide pretty much no aerodynamic advantage anyway, so proving that is going to be tricky. They also say that the new-fangled covers provide the classic F1 double whammy of a complete disregard for the spirit of a law combined with the provision of a really lovely, highly sellable patch of empty advertising space. Another argument being raised is that it may be too late to make changes now, with the teams committed to these designs for at least the first four flyaway races. “Sure, whatever,” said an engineer, yesterday.
Alonso happy
A spokesman for Fernando Alonso has claimed the Spaniard is ‘perfectly happy’ with his car, ‘fully committed’ to the 2017 season and is not, for example, thinking of running away to join the circus. Countering reports that the intense double World Champion had ripped the door to his ready room off its hinges, the spokesman cited unfortunately-timed metal fatigue, while the sound of crockery and glassware being smashed was attributed to ‘mice’. “It’s all going really well, isn’t it!” said the spokesman, with a hint of desperation in his voice.
 
VES VER GBH LOL
Max Verstappen’s no-holds barred aggression has taken on a new dimension this weekend with the Dutch teenager stealing the three-letter acronym of Formula E pacesetter Jean-Eric Vergne. “I don’t like VES, it sounds too much like VEST, and I don’t wear one of those,” muttered a defiant Max, while absentmindedly punching a saltwater crocodile in the face. “VER, sounds much better, like Verdant, or Vertigo, which my Dad says is a cool film,” he may have continued.
Jean-Eric is reportedly not amused with the decision, possibly because during a comeback he’s likely to be saddled with VEG. “He can fight me for it,” the much bigger Frenchman may have said: “Unless I can be JEV, in which case, fine.”
Nico enjoying life
Nico Rosberg has insisted he’s loving every minute of retirement. The reigning world champion who sensationally quit the sport hours before receiving his trophy claims he hasn’t missed F1 at all and, while helping out around the family home isn’t quite what he imagined, he’s settling into domesticity really well. Rosberg explained he has no regrets about giving up the jet-set lifestyle of an international playboy and is much happier changing nappies, finding Mr Dinosaur and comforting a teething child at 3am every morning.
The more relaxed former driver laughed about the bags under his eyes and having fingernails bitten down to the quick, and joked about not finding the presence of a very demanding child in the next room all that unfamiliar at all. “I’m thinking of getting a dog,” said the German, laughing so hard he started to cry. “Something energetic that needs lots of walks. Do you fancy going to the pub?”