Qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix has been postponed until Sunday morning after persistent rain and fading light forced the FIA to suspend further running at the end of the first twenty-minute phase of qualifying.
With the action set to get underway at 5:00pm local time, the start of Q1 was delayed and after several drivers crashed out in the treacherous conditions, the second part of qualifying was repeatedly delayed while circuit officials worked frantically to dry and sweep away large areas of standing water.
Eventually, some two hours after the scheduled start time, the session was abandoned entirely as the weather and light conditions deteriorated with the persistent showers and strong wind gusts making conditions impossible.
The outcome was bitterly disappointing for the large crowds who had flocked to the circuit, with many electing to leave before qualifying even began due to the lack of weatherproof shelter, with general admission ticketholders particularly worse off.
Nico Rosberg ultimately proved quickest at the end of the first twenty-minute session, which was littered with crashes and incidents for other runners.
Rosberg’s team-mate Lewis Hamilton was one of the high-profile victims, spinning his Mercedes backwards into the Turn 2 barriers and sustaining minor damage to his rear wing.
Felipe Massa was another driver to come to grief with front-end damage to his Ferrari, while both Caterham runners, Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde, ripped the front wings from their cars after they also crashed during the session.
Sauber rookie Esteban Gutierrez was the final runner to crash out, badly damaging the front end of his Sauber with a copycat of Massa’s crash at the Turn 11-12 sweeper.
The crash ensured that Mexican was unable to escape the bottom-six, and he will take no further part in qualifying when it resumes tomorrow.
Also joining him in the drop zone was a frustrated Pastor Maldonado, who declared his Williams undriveable on the soaking conditions.
Predictably, neither of the Marussia and Caterham runners made it into Q2, with Pic narrowly failing to post a time within 107% of Rosberg’s ultimate pace-setting effort.
2013 Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Preliminary Qualifying Session Times:
|1.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:43.380|
|2.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:43.850||+ 0.470|
|3.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:44.284||+ 0.904|
|4.||Sergio Pérez||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:44.300||+ 0.920|
|5.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:44.472||+ 1.092|
|6.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:44.635||+ 1.255|
|7.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:44.657||+ 1.277|
|8.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:44.688||+ 1.308|
|9.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:44.871||+ 1.491|
|10.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:45.456||+ 2.076|
|11.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:45.545||+ 2.165|
|12.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:45.601||+ 2.221|
|13.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:45.930||+ 2.550|
|14.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:46.450||+ 3.070|
|15.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW35||1:47.328||+ 3.948|
|16.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:47.330||+ 3.950|
|Q2 Cut-Off – 1:47.330||Time||Gap|
|17.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW35||1:47.614||+ 4.234|
|18.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:47.776||+ 4.396|
|19.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02||1:48.147||+ 4.767|
|20.||Max Chilton||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02||1:48.909||+ 5.529|
|21.||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham Renault CT03||1:49.519||+ 6.139|
|107% Cut-Off – 1:50.616||Time||Gap|
|NQ.||Charles Pic||Caterham Renault CT03||1:50.626||+ 7.246|