Lewis Hamilton celebrated his 50th Formula One pole position of his career as he started the 2016 Formula One season on a high note as the new look qualifying made its controversial debut at Albert Park.
Hardly anything changed from last season as Rosberg and Vettel completed the top 3.
The format of qualifying has changed, with the introduction of a system that will eliminate the slowest driver every 90 seconds in the second half of each of the three sessions.
And there are major restrictions on the use of team radio, with limitations on the information the teams can give to drivers.
The new qualifying format was universally condemned by fans, pundits, drivers as well as by Bernie Ecclestone himself. While the opening parts of Q1 and Q2 were frantic, Q3 was a disappointment with only Mercedes choosing to do two runs and Lewis Hamilton confirmed on pole with several minutes of the session remaining. There was no action at all in the final few minutes. The only piece of entertainment came in the first part of qualifying when Jolyon Palmer, under pressure of elimination, improved on his time and dumped his team-mate Kevin Magnussen out instead. After that it was all downhill.
This, however, didn’t go down well with the fans who mocked the new format on twitter, whereas drivers such as Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso strongly criticised it. Personalities such as Bernie Ecclestone, Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda condemned the new format and realised that changes were required to make it interesting and pleasing for the fans to watch.
Watch the best reactions from the twitterati world as the season opener qualifying came to an end.
FINAL PROVISIONAL QUALIFYING CLASSIFICATION*
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 19, 2016
— Suvodeep Das (@Suvodeep) March 19, 2016