Hamilton back on top in Australia qualifying

The 2012 F1 season’s first qualifying session kicked off with a bang, as Lewis Hamilton will start on pole position for the Australian Grand Prix. Teammate Jenson Button was a tenth of a second behind, resulting in a McLaren 1-2. Romain Grosjean took a very impressive 3rd, while Nico Rosberg ruined his final lap and will start 7th. Here is the full report:

Q1

Raikkonen's mistake left him 18th

Raikkonen's mistake left him 18th

Timo Glock’s Marussia kicked off the first qualifying session of 2012.

Sebastian Vettel felt the need to go out early, running onto the outside kerbs during his lap, followed by Lewis Hamilton. Fernando Alonso was badly held up by a HRT as he attempted to set a flying lap.

The two McLarens tussled for several laps, before being beaten by Nico Rosberg. Many midfield teams soon felt the need to take on the soft tyres, as the Force Indias escaped the drop zone.

Felipe Massa put on the soft tyres, and yet was only 16th. Kimi Raikkonen made a mistake on his final lap, and incredibly was out of Q1. Both Caterhams were 19th and 20th, while Timo Glock was ahead of Charles Pic. Both HRT cars were miles outside of the 107% rule.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Kimi Raikkonen  Р1:27.758

19) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:28.679

20) Vitaly Petrov – 1:29.018

21) Timo Glock – 1:30.923

22) Charles Pic – 1:30.670

Outside 107% rule:

Pedro de la Rosa – 1:33.495

Narain Karthikeyan – 1:33.643

Q2

Felipe Massa's dismal pace left him 16th

Felipe Massa's dismal pace left him 16th

Paul di Resta’s Force India kicked off Q2. Vettel was the first to break the 1:26 barrier, but was quickly beaten by Lewis Hamilton.

The red flag put an end to this battle, though. Fernando Alonso was the latest driver to make a mistake, spinning into the gravel at Turn 1. The Spaniard was already 6th fastest, but would have no further part in the session.

As the green flag went out, Rosberg went in front of the McLarens, with Schumacher only a tenth behind. Romain Grosjean was an impressive 5th, while Mark Webber only went 7th.

Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo jumped into the top 10, shoving Alonso down to 12th, with Massa a disappointing 16th. Sergio Perez failed to set a lap time.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:26.429

12) Fernando Alonso – 1:26.494

13) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:26.590

14) Bruno Senna – 1:26.663

15) Paul di Resta – 1:27.086

16) Felipe Massa – 1:27.097

17) Sergio Perez – No time

Q3

It's a McLaren 1-2 followed by Grosjean

It's a McLaren 1-2 followed by Grosjean

Nico Rosberg was the first out of the pits on used option tyres. However, due to a mistake in the final sector, he ended up behind Vettel, Schumacher and Button.

Lewis Hamilton’s time of 1:24.922 set the benchmark for the final set of runs. Mark Webber was next up, setting a 1:25.651 to put him second – for the moment.

In the final two minutes, 9 of the frontrunners set one more fast lap, with Ricciardo opting to stay in the pits.

A lock-up at Turn 3 ruined Rosberg’s chance of pole, leaving him 7th. Michael Schumacher took 4th, while Romain Grosjean shocked the entire paddock by snatching 3rd.

The battle for pole position was between the two McLarens. Button’s time of 1:25.074 was just off Lewis’ previous time, leaving the McLarens 1st and 2nd for the race tomorrow. Mark Webber pipped his teammate by 0.017 seconds for 5th.

Pastor Maldonado did well to qualify half a second ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, with Daniel Ricciardo saving a set of options for tomorrow’s race.

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