Albert Park: 1, 2, 3…Qually

Free Practice 1

  • Ferrari: Fernando Alonso looked in good form, he finished the day in P3, close to the time of rival Vettel. But teammate Felipe Massa ended in an off-pace P11.
  • Force India: Last years Brazilian pole sitter Nico Hulkenberg took Paul di Resta’s car for a spin and took P18. Adrian Sutil finished up in P13.
  • Hispania: Neither driver posted a time.
  • Lotus: Within minutes of Karun Chandhok making his debut as a reserve driver for Team Lotus, he dumped the car into the wall, owing it to the combination of a slippery track and a lack of grip. Heikki Kovalainen saved face with P19.
  • McLaren: Jenson Button (P6) came out ahead of Lewis Hamilton (P7).
  • Mercedes: Nico Rosberg continued on from where he left off last year, and took P4 while Michael Schumacher manged P8.
  • Red Bull: Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel dominated FP1, by clinching the top two spots respectively.
  • Renault: The experience Nick Heidfeld (P12) failed to get ahead of last year’s rookie Vitaly Petrov (P10).
  • Sauber: Rookie Sergio Perez posted his first practice times and gained a P17, where current rookie of the year Kamui Kobayashi impressed with a P9.
  • Toro-Rosso: Daniel Ricciardo (P16) came close to Sebastien Buemi (P14).
  • Williams: Veteran Rubens Barrichello (P5) nipped in ahead of both McLaren drivers. Rookie Pastor Maldonado secured a P15 in his first practice session.
  • Virgin: On thin ice in the first practice with both drivers considerably off the pace. First timer Jerome d’Ambrosio (P20) finished ahead of Timo Glock (P21)

Top FP1 times:

Position Driver Team Time
1 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing 1:26.831
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 1:27.158
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:27.749

Full Results

Free Practice 2:

  • Ferrari: Massa went off track during practice and scored a P7 to Alonso’s P3.
  • Force India: di Resta (P16) out paces more experienced Sutil (P17)
  • Hispania: Liuzzi gets 2 laps under his belt, but doesn’t post a time. Teammate Karthikeyan didn’t get behind the wheel.
  • Lotus: Both drivers dragging their heels, Kovalainen P19 and Trulli P20.
  • McLaren: Dominant throughout, and the only team to dip below 1:26, Jenson Button took P1, with Lewis Hamilton
  • Mercedes: Nipped ahead of Massa with a P6, Rosberg rounds out the top 10 behind Barrichello.
  • Red Bull: Told not to use DRS, couldn’t match McLaren or Alonso pace. Vettel (P4), Webber (P5).
  • Renault: Petrov and Heidfeld stick close together P12 and P13 respectively.
  • Sauber: Rookie Perez claims a seriously impressive P8 and streaks ahead of Kobayashi (P15).
  • Toro-Rosso:
  • Williams: Barrichello sneaks into the top 10 with a P9, rookie Maldonado gets a P18
  • Virgin: Knocked a second off their deficit, but still at the back, d’Ambrosio P21 and Glock P22.

Top FP2 times:

Position Driver Team Time
1 Jenson Button McLaren 1:25.854
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:25.986
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:26.001

Full Results

Free Practice 3:

  • Ferrari: Large gap between P6 Alonso and P12 Massa.
  • Force India: di Resta beat Sutil again with a P14 compared to P15.
  • Hispania: Both drivers in the car, Karthikeyan manages P23, Liuzzi stops on his outlap and doesn’t post a time.
  • Lotus: Staying ahead of rivals Virgin, Kovalainen P18 and Trulli P19
  • McLaren: Keeping up with the pace, Hamilton in P3 and Button in P4.
  • Mercedes: Both in the top 10 Rosberg ahead in P8 and Schumacher finishing up in P10.
  • Red Bull: Return to dominance with a familiar 1-2 for Vettel and Webber. Webber being held up by Heidfeld and Karthikeyan on different laps.
  • Renault: Indications of good pace from Petrov as he knocks up a P5, Heidfeld stays in top ten with P9.
  • Sauber: Great pace from Kobayashi in P7, Perez down in P17.
  • Toro-Rosso: Managing their mid-field dreams Buemi justing missing ou in P11 and Alguersuari in P13 (sandwiching Massa)
  • Williams: Bad finish to the practice sessions, Barrichello only achieving P16 and after parking in the gravel Maldonado is rewarded with a P21.
  • Virgin: Glock (P20) outpaced his rookie teammate this time, d’Ambrosio (P22) only beating HRT.

Top FP3 times:

Position Driver Team Time
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 1:24.507
2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing 1:25.364
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:25.553

Full Results

Qualifying:

Vettel was looking to beat his disastrous record at Albert Park this weekend, and by the end of qualifying he looked like he was on form to manage that. Teammate Webber was also determined to beat his career best here of P5 (in a Minardi no less). As it turned out Vettel had little trouble in being the pace setter and secured his 16th pole of his young career.

Webber was pushed onto the second row by Lewis Hamilton who was flying in his newly altered McLaren in the dying moments. Although he gained the advantage of starting the race on the clean side, this was not the start he wanted at his home race. The Australian native found himself in a McLaren sandwich, with Button joining his row with a P4.

Ferrari struggled and clinched a disappointing P5 by the hands of Alonso, despite showing good pace and reliability during testing the team wasn’t satisfied. Massa only just squeezed out of Q1, a spin in Q3 resulted in a less than stellar P8. The other teams with Ferrari influence, showed a real presence, Kobayashi got Sauber into Q3 as did Buemi for Toro Rosso (P9 and P10 respectively). Fellow Toro Rosso driver Alguersuari tucked up behind Schumacher in P12 and Sauber rookie Perez took P13.

Mercedes were distinctly average, especially after their sudden improvement in testing. Rosberg was their saving grace with a healthy P7, but legend Schumacher didn’t make it to Q3 and his P11 left him in between the Toro Rosso boys. The radical Renault got a solid start to the season at the hands of Vitaly Petrov who drove himself in P6. Nick Heidfeld was off the pace and out in Q1, which at this very early point has raised questions about his suitability for a team at this level with such a good car. He starts the race in P18, only above last years rookie teams.

Other rookies with something to be happy about are di Resta (P14) and Maldonado (P15), both finishing ahead of their more experienced counterparts. Sutil starts in P16 and Barrichello in P17 after a poor showing, the Brazilian failed to get past the first round of qualification. Sutil rounded out Q2, slowly. Virgin’s rookie d’Ambrosio gained a P22, but with the failure of Hispania, he’s starting in last place on the grid. Timo Glock was about a second faster than his teammate but gets a P21.

Today was all about the new rules, and the 107% one was broken in during the first day of qualifying. The Hispania duo, with embarrassingly less mileage than their rookie year, failed to get within that magical 107% zone. The token gesture of an appeal due to ‘exceptional circumstances’ (being disorganised doesn’t come under that apparently), was dismissed by the stewards. So we start the race with only 22 drivers and 11 teams.

Top Qualifying times:

Position

Driver

Team

Time

1

Sebastian Vettel

Red Bull

1:23.529

2

Lewis Hamilton

McLaren

1:24.307

3

Mark Webber

Red Bull

1:24.395

Full Results

 

Position

Driver

Team

Time

1

Sebastian Vettel

Red Bull

1:23.529

2

Lewis Hamilton

McLaren

1:24.307

3

Mark Webber

Red Bull

1:24.395

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