Lewis Hamilton has claimed pole position for tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton has claimed the twentieth pole position of his career, leading team-mate Jenson Button to a McLaren 1-2 in qualifying for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix. Romain Grosjean claimed a sensational third on the grid, while Michael Schumacher recorded fourth place (his best qualifying result since his comeback). Defending champion Sebastian Vettel qualified only sixth, behind team-mate Mark Webber.

With little in the way of dry running, qualifying had the potential to throw up a few surprises, and so this proved to be the case today.

Romain Grosjean qualified a sensational third on his F1 returnOf particular interest has been how some of the championship’s newer drivers outperformed their more established and/or experienced team-mates, as was evidenced in the performances of Grosjean, along with Pastor Maldonado and Nico Hülkenberg, who each outqualified team-mates Bruno Senna and Paul di Resta on their first outings together.
Trying to find a clear piece of track proved crucial in Q1, particularly given the speed differential between the frontrunners and the slower competitors. It was little surprise to see both HRT drivers in the thick of getting in the way of other drivers, and the Stewards will speak to both Pedro de la Rosa (for hindering Heikki Kovalainen) and Narain Karthikeyan (for hindering Fernando Alonso).

We had predicted that Felipe Massa would be the most likely candidate to be eliminated in Q1, but he managed to pull out a quick lap to scrape through, leaving F1 returnee Kimi Räikkönen in the drop zone. The Finn was knocked out of the running when he had a wild slide at Turn 12 on his final flying lap.

Joining him in the elimination were both Caterhams and, as expected both Marussia and HRT entries. De la Rosa and Karthikeyan both failed to post times quick enough to fall under the 107% threshold, and will have to rely on the generosity of the FIA stewards to be allowed to start tomorrow’s race.

Fernando Alonso beaches his FerrariQ2 was just a few minutes old when the red flags were unfurled after Fernando Alonso beached his Ferrari in the Turn 1 kitty litter. Replays showed the Spaniard mirrored team-mate Massa’s schoolboy error from yesterday’s practice session, dropping two wheels into the grass as he braked for the corner. His attempts to convince the marshals to push him out of the gravel trap were laughably futile, and he was sent back to the paddock on a motorbike while his F2012 was retrieved.

The remainder of the session proved generally incident-free, and at the end both Saubers, both Ferraris, Paul di Resta, Bruno Senna and Jean-Eric Vergne were knocked out of the reckoning. This left the expected frontrunners in the top-ten, while Daniel Ricciardo would make his maiden Q3 appearance. Hülkenberg, Grosjean and Maldonado had looked equally impressive, and would also make the Q3 cut ahead of their more experienced team-mates.

Q3 again proved a tense affair. Hamilton set the benchmark time on his first run, hotly pursued by the chasing quartet of Button, Vettel, Schumacher and Rosberg. Webber then went out for his sole run and moved up to second, but he was bumped down the order as Schumacher, Button and then Grosjean all leapt ahead.

Vettel couldn’t improve and he was dumped down to sixth place – his worst qualifying performance in over a year – while single-lap efforts from Maldonado and Hülkenberg earned them eighth and ninth, just behind Nico Rosberg.

Despite having made the Q3 cut, Toro Rosso new boy and hometown hero Daniel Ricciardo did not post a qualifying time in the final cut. No doubt the decision was made to give him some strategic flexibility for tomorrow’s race, but it did deprive fans of the chance to celebrate a better qualifying performance for both Australian drivers.


2012 Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Qualifying Results:

Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes 1:26.800 1:25.626 1:24.922
2. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes 1:26.832 1:25.663 1:25.074
3. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault 1:26.498 1:25.845 1:25.302
4. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes AMG F1 1:26.586 1:25.571 1:25.336
5. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault 1:27.117 1:26.297 1:25.651
6. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault 1:26.773 1:25.982 1:25.668
7. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG F1 1:26.763 1:25.469 1:25.686
8. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault 1:26.803 1:26.206 1:25.908
9. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Force India Mercedes 1:27.464 1:26.314 1:26.451
10. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:27.024 1:26.319 no time
11. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:26.493 1:26.429  
12. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari 1:26.688 1:26.494  
13. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari 1:26.182 1:26.590  
14. Bruno Senna BRA Williams Renault 1:27.004 1:26.663  
15. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes 1:27.469 1:27.086  
16. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari 1:27.633 1:27.497  
17. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari 1:26.596 no time  
18. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault 1:27.758    
19. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Caterham Renault 1:28.679    
20. Vitaly Petrov RUS Caterham Renault 1:29.018    
21. Timo Glock DEU Marussia Racing Cosworth 1:30.923    
22. Charles Pic FRA Marussia Racing Cosworth 1:31.670    
  OUTSIDE 107%     1:32.214    
23. Pedro de la Rosa ESP HRTF1 Cosworth 1:33.495    
23. Narain Karthikeyan IND HRTF1 Cosworth 1:33.643    

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.