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Australia 2013 - Qualifying highlights - Red Bull capitalise on a two-part qualifying session in Melbourne

Published by Christine

Mercedes shine in overcast conditions
Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas

Qualifying in Australia isn't always a key moment of the season - the first race of the year, and a chaotic one at that, allowing for plenty of change once the Grand Prix itself begins. Nevertheless, it's the first opportunity for teams and drivers to show what they can do.

Under stormy skies on Saturday, the first session was run, but the remainder of qualifying was delayed to the point where it had to be pushed back to Sunday. Run at 11am local time, the final two sessions were completed, allowing pole position, and the rest of the grid to be decided.

As it happened: Australia 2013 - Qualifying

Event Highlights

  • Qualifying split into a two-day event due to heavy rain showers on Saturday
  • Red Bull lock out the front row, with Vettel ahead of Mark Webber
  • Felipe Massa outqualifies teammate Fernando Alonso for Ferrari
  • McLaren gamble with the tyres, with Pérez out in Q2 and Button in 10th
  • 05:30

    Hello! F1 has returned! We've been waiting for ages and ages (well, three months) and finally the action is due to get going again in Melbourne.

  • 05:30

    Our slight concern at the moment is whether we will be able to see it at all, as apparently the TV compound has no power.

  • 05:31

    It's been raining heavily in Melbourne. Proper rain.

  • 05:31

    TweetTweet from @gvandergarde: Still raining here.. Qualifying starts in 35 min, interesting'

  • 05:31

    TweetTweet from @ValtteriBottas: Hmm raining now heavily... Qualifying starts in 1hr, should be interesting ;)

  • 05:32

    TweetTweet from @Lotus_F1Team: Luckily we have in-house weatherman @RGrosjean on hand for crucial updates: "It looks a bit wet" Thanks Romain...

  • 05:32

    Ooh, the broadcasters are back!

  • 05:34

    If you've missed any of the practice sessions so far, it's been reasonably quiet. Vettel was fastest for both of yesterday's sessions, more info here:

  • 05:34

    Today, however, the German only managed to complete nine laps in the hour, after pulling off track with a mechanical gremlin.

  • 05:35

    Interview with Christian Horner: "A sensor issue, basically. We ended up stopping the car as a precaution. We didn't wnat to take the risk and damage any of the components... a straightforward repair for qualifying."

    "When it's weather like this, it's all a bit of a lottery. It's trying to be out on track at the right time, when windows open up and a dry line starts to appear. If it's consistent rain, that makes life a bit more straightforward."

  • 05:39

    Third practice was hit by the rain a little, so Vettel's nine laps wasn't that out of sync with everyone else. Romain Grosjean set the fastest time, for what it's worth.

  • 05:41

    Wet track under grey skies, via @Lotus_F1Team.

  • 05:45

    There are five rookies set to make their debut this weekend, in difficult circumstances it seems! Jules Bianchi, Valtteri Bottas, Max Chilton, Esteban Gutiérrez, and Giedo van der Garde. Good luck to them all!

  • 05:49

    QuoteInterview with Martin Whitmarsh: "The weather didn't help us this morning, we did a bit of a test with a high fuel run. At the beginning of the session we wanted a dry low fuel run.

    "We were inconsistent, we were bottoming too much yesterday, that really disturbed the car. We made some pretty fundamental errors in setting the car up. We'd like to feel we've got some of that fixed but don't know yet.

    "I think we have a tricky car. In winter testing, we were good at high speed corners but we were struggling... the third sector at Barcelona, which is this circuit - add some bumps - and a slightly peaky performance from the car. We knew we were in for a tough time.

    "We will fix it, we won't fix it as quick as I'd like because we never do. These are issues, you're always developing a car, you find some weaknesses, you develop it."

  • 05:50

    Just about ten minutes to go, the rain is still hammering down at the track.

  • 05:52

    This weekend, Pirelli have brought the medium and supersoft compound - the first time we've seen this combination at Melbourne.

  • 05:54

    This time last year, Lewis Hamilton took pole position with a 1:24.922 in his McLaren. I'm not sure we can take anything from this. Lewis is at a different team, McLaren say they are struggling, and the time will be much slower due to conditions.

  • 05:55

    TweetTweet from @MyCaterhamF1: Whoever you support, whatever colours you're wearing, be thankful F1 is back. The rain's returned with a vengeance so it is going to be MEGA

  • 05:57

    Race controlDRS disabled.

  • 05:57



    Wind speed4.7mps
  • 05:58

    With just eleven teams in 2013, the sessions are tweaked slightly so we lose six drivers in the first and second, rather than the seven of last year.

  • 05:58

    Race controlStart of Q1 delayed by 10 minutes.

  • 06:00

    Also changed for this year, DRS is only available in the designated zones during practice and qualifying, rather than the free-for-all of previous seasons. Not so much of an issue in the rain, though.

  • 06:01

    There are people on track, at the end of the pitlane, with their ponchos and high vis jackets on, sweeping away the excess water.

  • 06:01

    That's a thankless job - sweeping away water with a broom as it continues to pour down.

  • 06:05

    The Medical Car is looking poised to head out for an exploratory lap.

  • 06:06

    There it goes, lights flashing, scaring off the birds as it rounds the corners.

  • 06:06

    The drivers, meanwhile, are trying to stay focused in the garage. Vettel sits in his car, staring straight ahead, in the zone.

  • 06:08

    Race controlStart of Q1 delayed by a further 10 minutes. Start of qualifying now scheduled for 17:20.

  • 06:12

    Sergio Pérez looks as relaxed as possible in the McLaren. Helmet off, leaning back a bit. Pressures on him not to mess up this weekend, I suppose.

  • 06:15

    The world feed is reduced to showing replays of super-slo-mo broom sweeping. This could be a new sport!

  • 06:17

    TweetTweet from @MercedesAMGF1: Getting late so getting darker here... #LightsOutDownUnder #Q1

  • 06:18

    The Medical Car is out and about again, it's looking darker in terms of evening but a bit better in terms of conditions. To my non-expert eyes.

  • 06:19

    While you're waiting, how about voting for who will get pole position today? The qualifying prediction polls are back!

  • 06:20

    Race controlStart of Q1 delayed by a further 10 minutes. Start of qualifying now scheduled for 17:30.

  • 06:23

    You can also vote for which rookie will qualify best... if qualifying ever gets going, that is!

  • 06:26

    Hamilton is prowling the garage, helmet on. He's just climbing back into the car ready to settle in once more.

  • 06:29

    The Mercedes drivers are sitting at the end of the pitlane. All the drivers are pouring out the garage now. The session may be about to start!

  • 06:30

    There's a massive queue now, a Red Bull leaves the garage and goes maybe 100 metres to join the end of it.

  • 06:30

    Green flagQualifying session 1 begins.

  • 06:31

    Hamilton leads the pack away, Rosberg following close behind him, as they kick up heaps of spray testing out the limits of the track.

  • 06:32

    Lewis has the best job, really. Visibility for anyone behind must be almost impossible as plumes of water spray up into the air behind each car.

  • 06:33

    Hamilton runs wide at several of the corners, as he begins his "flying" lap.

  • 06:34

    Giedo van der Garde is circling with the front wing lodged under the car.

  • 06:34

    Hamilton sets the first time, a 1:50, immediately beaten by Rosberg with a 1:48.

  • 06:35

    Yellow flagYellow flags as Hamilton is stopped off track.

  • 06:35

    He hasn't hit the wall, looks a bit beached on the grass. Oh no, there's a bit of reversing and he's back on the tarmac.

  • 06:36

    Replays show he just lost it going into turn four, the back of the car did tap the wall but no major damage there.

  • 06:36

    We're also getting replays of Van der Garde's off, where it looks like he hit a kerb that did a surprising amount of damage. The Caterham is still circling slowly trying to get back to the pitlane.

  • 06:36

    Green flagTrack is clear.

  • 06:37

    21 drivers all have a lap time now, Rosberg top with Sutil all the way down the bottom - 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Difficult conditions for a comeback!

  • 06:38

    Rosberg tops his own time, for a 1:46.5. Sutil's slow time may have been due to a brief excursion off track.

  • 06:38

    Team radioTeam radio to Hamilton: "Lewis, it looks like you've got rear wing damage, so box, box, box."

  • 06:39

    Yellow flagYellow flag.

  • 06:39

    Green flagTrack is clear.

  • 06:40

    It looks like that yellow flag was for Felipe Massa, who is now minus a front wing. Replays show the Ferrari lost the rear end, but hit the wall hard and did a double 360 spin, splashing into a puddle as he did so.

  • 06:40

    Mark Webber also had a bit of an off, but managed to continue with slightly less damage than Massa.

  • 06:42

    Rosberg radio suggests they are happy with his time, he's the fastest car, but they're staying out and looking after the tyres, in case conditions change.

  • 06:42

    In the drop zone at the moment, Caterham and Marussia, plus, surprisingly, the two Williams drivers.

  • 06:43

    Sebastian Vettel flies up into P1, with a 1:46.188, just ahead of Vergne and then Rosberg. The track may be coming together.

  • 06:43

    Jules Bianchi is currently outside the 107% cut off time. Nine seconds behind the leaders.

  • 06:43

    More replays as Sergio Pérez spins off, and Esteban Gutiérrez also appears to have a moment.

  • 06:44

    Three people have gone out on intermediate tyres, Massa, Di Resta and Button. Sutil also joins the intermediate fun.

  • 06:44

    Pastor Maldonado takes a unique line, heading off track and over the grass in a bumpy ride that will not help the tyres at all!

  • 06:45

    Drivers are diving into the pitlane now to change tyres, look for those green sidewalls as the inters make their presence known.

  • 06:47

    Button's first lap on the intermediates catapults him straight up to P1, with a 1:45.192.

  • 06:47

    Massa is back out on track, currently sitting in 15th with some recovery to do after his big off earlier.

  • 06:48

    Bianchi has improved his time now, moving within the 107%. All drivers within the cutoff at the moment.

  • 06:48

    At the top we have Button, Massa and Vettel. At the back, the same as before, Marussia, Caterham and both Williams drivers in the drop zone.

  • 06:49

    Button told that there's more rain falling in the pitlane.

  • 06:49

    Yellow flagYellow flag as Pic crashes into the wall.

  • 06:50

    Esteban Gutiérrez has also had a problem, he's stranded on track minus a front wing!

  • 06:50

    Esteban reports he's okay on the radio, but that car is right in the way! Replays show the back spun out and he did exactly the same as Massa.

  • 06:51

    Chequered flagQualifying session 1 ends.

  • 06:53
    Qualifying Position
    17P MaldonadoWilliams
    18E GutiérrezSauber
    19J BianchiMarussia
    20M ChiltonMarussia
    21G van der GardeCaterham
    C PicCaterham
  • 06:53

    Some sneaky fast times at the end there knocked Pic outside the 107% cutoff time. He'll likely be able to race due to conditions, though.

  • 06:56

    We've closed the polls and Valtteri Bottas was considered the rookie he will do the best. That will be the case, although Williams do appear to be struggling for pace in these conditions.

  • 06:56

    Poor Max Chilton didn't get a single vote.

  • 06:56

    Race controlStart of Q2 delayed by 10 minutes. New scheduled start for Q2 at 18:10.

  • 06:57

    Sebastian Vettel edged the vote for pole position with 29%. The rest were split mostly between Fernando Alonso and the mysterious Other.

  • 07:01

    QuoteInterview with Max Chilton: "For a first ever qualifying, it was pretty challenging but I'm really happy with it. We both finished in front of the Caterhams and that what we wanted, and I now know we've got a good car for tomorrow as well.

    "When you're sat in the car looking at rivers out on the track, it's quite unnerving but when I was out there, the car was a real joy to drive."

  • 07:04

    QuoteInterview with Pastor Maldonado: "I think we're back to two years ago conditions in the team. We need to work very hard to sort the problems. The car is undriveable at the moment and we need to work. The track is completely different, the conditions. On the wet we were slow, on the dry as well. The pace for tomorrow seems to be much better, but qualifying is really bad."

  • 07:06

    TweetTweet from @radarguruf1: #F1 radar 17:57 EDT: Rain and showers set to continue for at least another hour. There will be some short breaks, but not many.

  • 07:07

    Interview with Giedo van der Garde: "You have to keep your focus. Yesterday we had a good day, I went off. This morning we had to back up a bit, this morning was quite good but with the tricky conditions in qualifying, it's hard but it's still a learning curve."

  • 07:08

    Race controlStart of Q2 delayed by a further 20 minutes. Q2 now scheduled to start at 18:30.

  • 07:09

    Drivers react to the delay by climbing out of their cars and meandering the garages in anticipation.

  • 07:10

    It's getting murkier out there, twilight gloom setting in. Sunset just over an hour away.

  • 07:12

    TedNews: Thinking behind the delay is that there's a heavy rain shower coming and they'd rather wait than start the session and have to stop it halfway through.

  • 07:17

    Bianchi is chatting with the PR lady at Marussia about what should go in the press conference quotes. She's also struggling to hold on to the branded umbrella in the wind.

  • 07:21

    QuoteInterview with Charlie Whiting: "After Q1 there was a lot of debris to pick up off the track, plus it had rained a little heavier, and we wanted to clear as much water off track as possible. We do have the prospect of another heavy shower between now and half past six, so I'm not 100% confident we'll be able to start at half past six, but we'll do what we can."

  • 07:24

    Interview with Stefano Domenicali: "It's not conditions to run in this moment. So far, Race Control has taken the right decision in my view. On top of this, there is another band of rain to come later, so the problem is visibility."

  • 07:26

    Interview with Esteban Gutiérrez: "I have to keep my positive. It's an incident which is not ideal, I'm very sorry with the team, but I still have the race tomorrow to keep my focus. For me, I will go on my best, I will try to achieve my goal, which is to finish the race which is important for my mileage, for my experience."

  • 07:26

    @AlanPermane Good old James!

    Keeping warm on the pit wall, the technical director does the tea round!

  • 07:27

    TweetTweet from @alanbaldwinf1: Disappointed not to see any paper ships sailing down the pitlane. Traditions should be upheld.

  • 07:27

    Race controlStart of Q2 delayed by a further 20 minutes. Q2 now scheduled to start at 18:50.

  • 07:30

    Amy, at the track: Another 20 min will definitely be too dark

  • 07:31

    A new poll added for you: Will the qualifying session be run in full today?

  • 07:33

    Rosberg is pacing about the garage, helmet off, jacket on to keep warm. He looks very anxious.

  • 07:34

    TweetTweet from @maxchilton: Well that's is what you call a intresting maiden F1 qualifying! Very happy considering I caught the yellow! Good job @Marussia_F1Team #P20

  • 07:37

    Qualifying has been delayed so much, we've managed to get a tweet from a driver who is all done and dusted!

  • 07:38

    McLaren's live pitwall: The radar image places Albert Park in the middle of a continent of rain.

  • 07:39

    The FIA cars have their lights on, as ever, but now they are just serving to highlight how dark it is getting.

  • 07:40

    TweetTweet from @GvanderGarde: Wow.... What a first qualy session for me! It was really crazy, wet,inters, hardcore session..!

  • 07:42

    It's fascinating to see the difference between drivers. Räikkönen was stood by himself, checking his gear, putting on his helmet. Hamilton, relaxed, jacket on to keep warm, surrounded by a group of people, chatting aimiably.

  • 07:43

    Having said that, an engine is fired up, and Lewis is no shedding the jacket and reaching for the helmet. About seven minutes until the next scheduled start time. We'll see, though, eh?

  • 07:47

    Race controlStewards Decision - Q2 and Q3 will take place at 11:00 on Sunday morning.

  • 07:48

    Drivers get out the cars, their work is done for today then.

  • 07:51

    Some are disappearing immediately out the back of the garage, others are staying and chatting. Webber's having a good chin wag with his engineers, Alonso made a quick trip to the pit wall.

  • 07:55

    That's all for now then. The Factbyte Factbox may or may not be back for Qualifying Part 2. Keep it tuned to Sidepodcast for all your F1 needs, in the meantime.

  • 23:40

    And we're back. Qualifying is due to get underway in about twenty minutes, so it's time to get in the F1 mood again.

  • 23:40

    TweetTweet from @clubforce: A few rain showers earlier, but it's dry now. Temperature is cool, sky overcast. We are raring to go for qualifying part deux! #FeelTheForce

  • 23:46

    TweetTweet from @WilliamsF1Team: Things seem to be drying up but its now very windy and pretty cold! Whichever way you look at it, today will be a challenge! #F1

  • 23:52

    To recap, we've only managed to have Q1 so far. Both Caterham drivers crashed, and both Marussia drivers dropped out.

  • 23:52

    Esteban Gutiérrez and Pastor Maldonado also failed to make it through to Q2, with Esteban crashing his Sauber right at the end of the session.

  • 23:53

    The poor weather conditions delayed the action until Sunday morning, so the rest of qualifying and the race will take place on the same day.

  • 23:53

    TweetTweet from @MercedesAMGF1: It's grey, windy, but MUCH better than yesterday. #Q2

  • 23:56

    Less than five minutes to go now.

  • 23:57



    Wind speed4.4mps
  • 23:57

    The Toro Rosso boys line up at the end of the pit lane, ready to head out as soon as the lights go green.

  • 23:58

    Looks like the drivers are opting for intermediate tyres at the moment.

  • 00:00

    Green flagQualifying session 2 begins.

  • 00:01

    There's traffic galore out there, as a train of cars head out to investigate the state of the track.

  • 00:02

    TweetTweet from @WilliamsF1Team: #BOTTAS waits in the garage as we will try to time it to give him a good track position #Q2 #AustralianGP

  • 00:02

    Vettel gets a radio message of rain potentially coming in. They'll all be wanting to set a banker lap time, then.

  • 00:03

    Rosberg crosses the line to start his flying lap, and immediately goes just a tiny bit wide around the early corners.

  • 00:03

    Team radioTeam radio to Webber: "You can use DRS, DRS is okay."

  • 00:04

    The first few times come in, Rosberg with a 1:40, Webber a second behind, and Hamilton a further second down the road.

  • 00:07

    All sixteen drivers have set a time, although the field spread is massive. Vettel at the top has dropped to 1:38, whilst Bottas down in 16th is five seconds slower.

  • 00:08

    Kimi Räikkönen slips into second place, only to be beaten by his teammate Grosjean. Then Alonso and Vettel trade fastest laps, with the Red Bull remaining on top.

  • 00:09

    The drop zone is changing continuously as the track dries up and times tumble.

  • 00:10

    Ted News: Sergio Pérez is the first to go out on the dry tyres, super softs, the red stripe.

  • 00:10

    Ferrari are also looking at slick tyres. Alonso comes in, but it's a fresh set of intermediates going on that car.

  • 00:11

    Pérez is having to work really hard to keep hold of the McLaren car, the slick tyres not keeping grip in the sections of track with more puddles.

  • 00:11

    Sergio is straight back in the pit lane, but it's another set of super soft tyres going on that McLaren.

  • 00:12

    Jenson Button is also on the red sidewalls, and he appeared to be coping better, until running wide off onto the grass.

  • 00:12

    The drop zone now features Massa, Ricciardo, Di Resta, Pérez, Bottas and Sutil.

  • 00:12

    Vettel remains fastest, with Rosberg and Webber behind him.

  • 00:13

    Hamilton improves to slip into second place.

  • 00:13

    It looks like Button pitted and swapped back to the intermediate tyres.

  • 00:13

    Two minutes of the session left.

  • 00:14

    Pérez isn't getting any faster on those dry tyres, he's now fifteenth and very much in the danger zone.

  • 00:15

    Replays show Felipe Massa power sliding out of the pit lane.

  • 00:15

    Chequered flagQualifying session 2 ends.

  • 00:16

    Pérez is out, those tyres just didn't come to him and he can do no better than 15th place. Button currently 11th but on a lap.

  • 00:16

    Massa is also in the drop zone but is just about to cross the line on his final flying lap.

  • 00:16

    Massa improves massively to cross the line fourth. For now. Button then pushes him down to fifth, by taking fourth.

  • 00:18
    Qualifying Position
    11N HülkenbergSauber
    12A SutilForce India
    13JE VergneToro Rosso
    14D RicciardoToro Rosso
    15S PérezMcLaren
    16V BottasWilliams
  • 00:21

    We've heard from McLaren already that they're not confident with the pace of the car, so taking risks is understandable. Although, given it's Pérez's first race in the car, you'd think they might have been a bit more cautious.

  • 00:23

    Green flagQualifying session 3 begins.

  • 00:24

    Drivers pouring out of the pit lane again, no hanging about this weekend.

  • 00:24

    Seven drivers out within a minute, Just Button, Grosjean and Di Resta remain in the garage.

  • 00:26

    Grosjean emerges for the first time this session. Button and Di Resta remain.

  • 00:26

    Nico Rosberg is on his first flying lap, Lewis Hamilton close behind.

  • 00:27

    Hamilton sets the early benchmark, Rosberg then Webber behind. The top three are all on 1:33s, Alonso in fourth on a 1:34.

  • 00:28

    Replays show Vettel drifting slightly as his intermediate tyres may be overheating as the track dries out.

  • 00:29

    Despite that, he sets the fastest time so far 1:32.604.

  • 00:29

    TweetTweet from @OzJez: Literally on the edge of my seat in front right corner of Schumacher stand. Not just because it's wet :p #AusGP

  • 00:30

    Kimi Räikkönen is back in the pitlane, and the team have lifted his car up onto the jacks and pushed him back in the garage.

  • 00:30

    Three minutes left, that's not a good sign!

  • 00:31

    All ten drivers are on the supersoft tyres now, but just seven times on the board at the moment.

  • 00:31

    Button is on a lap right now, Räikkönen heads back out on track.

  • 00:32

    Button heads straight to the top of the times with a 1:32.485.

  • 00:33

    The track really is starting to come good, Hamilton crosses the line with a 1:29.184.

  • 00:33

    Alonso put in some speedy sectors, but crossed the line sixth with time to spare for another lap.

  • 00:33

    Sebastian Vettel crosses the line for a 1:27.407, with Mark Webber chasing him down.

  • 00:33

    Chequered flagQualifying session 3 ends.

  • 00:34

    Webber crosses the line second, he had a slide during that final sector that won't have helped.

  • 00:34

    Massa goes faster than Alonso!

  • 00:35

    Vettel backs off his flying lap, knowing he had pole position in the bag.

  • 00:36
    Qualifying Position
    1S VettelRed Bull
    2M WebberRed Bull
    3L HamiltonMercedes
    4F MassaFerrari
    5F AlonsoFerrari
    6N RosbergMercedes
    7K RäikkönenLotus
    8R GrosjeanLotus
    9P di RestaForce India
    10J ButtonMcLaren
  • 00:36

    Red Bull lock out the front row, which isn't a massive surprise, really. Webber lines up on the front row for his home race, but will have to do battle with his teammate into the first corner.

  • 00:37
    Gap Analysis
  • 00:39

    Alonso kept his helmet on whilst being weighed, teammate Massa stood beside him. You'd guess the Spaniard is not too happy.

  • 00:40

    Interview with Christian Horner: "We were looking competitive in both conditions, to be honest with you... A great lap from both of them, to lock out the front row of the first race, in difficult qualifying sessions, is a great start to the day. It's going to be a busy day today."

  • 00:43

    I'd better wrap things up pretty sharpish here, as the FBFB will be back in just under five hours for the racing action! Join me then, won't you?

All content in the series Australia 2013