Hamilton leads McLaren one-two as Grosjean takes surprise third

2012 Australian Grand Prix qualifying

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Melbourne, 2012Lewis Hamilton and McLaren team mate Jenson Button share the front row of the grid for the Australian Grand Prix.

A scorching lap of 1’24.922 put Hamilton clear of his team mate while Lotus’s Romain Grosjean took a surprise third.

This was despite team mate Kimi Raikkonen being eliminated in the first part of qualifying.

A dramatic session saw both Ferraris miss out on the top ten and the Red Bulls consigned to the third row of the grid.


With the midfield runners separated by tenths or even hundredths, the first part of qualifying was always likely to create drama.

And so it proved. To begin with Felipe Massa looked most at risk of failing to reach Q2 as he languished an 18th. Both he and team mate Fernando Alonso had to make another run on soft tyres to make sure of their progress.

But it was Raikkonen who was caught out. With the lap times tumbling at the end of the session, Raikkonen made a mistake in the final sector and with too little time to respond he missed the cut by a tenth of a second.

Caterham were the best part of a second adrift, showing little progress over their position at the end of last year.

Both Marussia drivers were comfortably within 7% of the fastest time. But HRT struggled, and Narain Karthikeyan incurred the wrath of several drivers including Alonso and Sebastian Vettel who he held up.

Neither F112 was within the 107% time, Pedro de la Rosa falling short by 1.2 seconds.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’27.759
19 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’28.679
20 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1’29.018
21 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1’30.923
22 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1’31.670
23 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1’33.495
24 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’33.643


The second part of qualifiyng produced more drama. Alonso had put the unco-operative F2012 in fifth place when he dropped his left-hand wheels onto the grass at turn one and spun into the gravel trap.

That brought his session to an end and temporarily halted proceedings just after Hamilton had set the fastest time so far.

When the session resumed the Mercedes drivers showed their hand, Rosberg taking the quickest time a tenth of a second ahead of Schumacher.

A fine effort from Maldonado propelled him into Q3. It also began Alonso’s slide out of the top ten, which was completed when Hulkenberg edged him out by a tenth of a second.

Ferrari still had one other car running but Massa’s best effort was a full second off Alonso’s time.

Ricciardo made it two home drivers in the final ten, pipping his team mate by a tenth of a second.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’26.429
12 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’26.494
13 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’26.590
14 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1’26.663
15 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’27.086
16 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’27.497
17 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari


The Mercedes drivers did their first run of Q3 on the soft tyres which they had been using when the red flag came out in Q2.

Rosberg was first to set a time but it was emphatically beaten by Hamilton, whose 1’24.922 was seven-tenths quicker than anyone could manage on their first runs.

That included Vettel, who slotted into second ahead of Schumacher and Button.

Rosberg had a set of new soft tyres for his final attempt. But he locked up heavily at turn four and slumped to seventh place.

Team mate Schumacher moved up to second, only to be pegged back by Romain Grosjean. Jenson Button erased most of the gap to Hamilton with his last effort – but fell short by a tenth of a second.

Hamilton couldn’t find any more time with his last run but he didn’t need to, and duly claimed his second Australian Grand Prix pole position.

Top ten in Q3

1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’24.922
2 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’25.074
3 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’25.302
4 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’25.336
5 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’25.651
6 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’25.668
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’25.686
8 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’25.908
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’26.451
10 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari

2012 Australian Grand Prix

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284 comments on Hamilton leads McLaren one-two as Grosjean takes surprise third

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  1. Platanna (@xaviex) said on 17th March 2012, 7:24

    Sniff. It’s so beautiful. I don’t know if I’ll be able to wait for the race.

  2. DavidS (@davids) said on 17th March 2012, 7:26

    So many teams looking strong, Red Bull looking under pressure, Ferrari well off the pace.
    Looks like an exciting season coming up.

  3. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 17th March 2012, 7:26

    I’m happy to see that Red Bull are far from dominant this year. A third row means a fast car, but not nearly enough to cruze up front.
    I’m also surprised Rosberg only qualified 7th. He was fastest of the hard tyres in Q1, and quickest in Q2. Without his lock-up in turn 3, I think he seriously could’ve challenged Hamilton for pole today.

    Lastly, Grosjean did brilliant. Kimi might’ve been unlucky today, but looking at the pace of the Lotus, he could certainly be on the podium this year.

    • Lemon (@lemon) said on 17th March 2012, 8:01

      I think Mclaren were running bit of fuel in Q2…and ross brawn said after quali that mercedes were close to their maximum pace in Q2

    • Hatebreeder (@hatebreeder) said on 17th March 2012, 8:01

      he wont be far behind. He’ll probably start on softs and pull himself in front.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 17th March 2012, 9:27

      @kingshark Rosberg had a lock-up on his final hot lap so that would explain why he was so low. I have no doubt he would have gone higher, but I’m not sure about pole.

      I think it’s too early to proclaim any era of dominance, or lack-of dominance. Yes, RBR were off the pace. But we have 20 races to go and an awful lot can happen. Red Bull can still win all 20 races. Until we’ve got a few races out of the way I don’t think we can safely say any level of dominance has been established.

  4. F1fan55 said on 17th March 2012, 7:29

    Can’t believe Red Bull are down there! Vettel didn’t look confident all throughout practice and qualy, while Webber said he had no KERS, so that may make a difference. But still, amazing from Mercedes, McLaren and Grosjean, Particularly Grosjean!

    • Dom (@3dom) said on 17th March 2012, 7:35

      KERS problems again? But this time he outqualified vetted too!

      • F1fan55 said on 17th March 2012, 7:46

        Yeah, encouraging for Webber, he looks quite comfortable, maybe more so than Vettel – but the Red Bull is definitely not as fast as they’d like…

      • Lemon (@lemon) said on 17th March 2012, 8:03

        People seem to forget the Webber was very competetive with Vettel in 2010 before the blown diffuser, I think he has benefited from the loss of it…

        • F1fan55 said on 17th March 2012, 8:14

          Exactly @Lemon, Webber may surprise a few people this year…

          • nidzovski (@nidzovski) said on 17th March 2012, 8:26

            I think that the fact that Red Bull isn’t dominantly fast can just lift the pressure of Marks’s chests. He use to be guilty as under-performing in a the fastest car on the grid. Not any more. Besides this is just a first qualifying and look how fired up all of us are :)))))))) Yuhuuu!

        • Aldoid said on 17th March 2012, 8:18

          I agree. It’s obvious that Vettel was much better at exploiting the EBD than Mark was… He & Horner even admitted as much last year if I recall correctly. I’m pretty confident that the team battle between the Red Bull boys will look more like 2010 than 2011.

        • F1fanNL (@) said on 17th March 2012, 8:23


          And 2009? No diffusor, no exhaust blowing. 15-2 for Vettel in qualifying.

          Webber was very competitive with Vettel in 2010 because Vettel suffered a lot of car failures and made costly mistakes. In 2009 Webber was also able to keep up with Vettel due to Vettel making mistakes.

          Webber scored more points last year than he did in 2010. He was also more consistent. The only problem for him was that Vettel made very little mistakes last year and almost no car failures.

          • katederby said on 17th March 2012, 8:36

            2009? Webber wasn’t fully fit until at least half way into the season, if that. Plus he had a run of bad luck and mechanical failures at the end of the year. But that’s not to say Vettel isn’t a great driver, obviously.

          • BROOKSY007 (@brooksy007) said on 17th March 2012, 9:24

            Don’t forget that 2009 was when webber was still recovering from his nasty broken leg. It would’ve been very painful with all the g forces and knocking about inside the cockpit.

        • Jack Flash (Aust) said on 17th March 2012, 10:50

          +1. You hit the nail on the head. When the EBD development escalated from mid 2010, Webber’s comparative competiveness to Vettel faded, and 2011 too. “Back to the Future” now. Webber has driven a long time in F1 cars without back ends ‘welded onto rails’. A bit of luck mechanically wouldn’t go astray for Webber neither. JF

          • Dom (@3dom) said on 17th March 2012, 11:11

            They had EDB at the start of 2010 and webber was competitive with it. It was the Off-throttle blowing (introduced halfway thru 2010) that he wasn’t as comfortable with

        • Fernando Cruz said on 17th March 2012, 13:06

          This year Webber can benefit from the loss of blown diffuser and also from the fact that he now has a full year experience with the Pirelli tyres. Remember Vettel adapted very quickly to Pirelli last year…

          • suka (@suka) said on 17th March 2012, 19:18

            still we’ll see tomorrow if Webber can fix his badstarts from the last year. I wish him luck so we get better entertainment.

    • S.J.M (@sjm) said on 17th March 2012, 8:22

      Fantastic qualy session. Everyone on Sky was banging on about “how much have Redbull still to show of their performance” all the way upto Q3. Yet, it was becoming obvious at the start of Q2 that actually, there wasnt going to be a surge in performance from RBR this time, and that everything was as we was seeing it. Im actually shocked (and Im sure everyone else is too) just how far back they was from Hamilton’s pole time.

      • Aldoid said on 17th March 2012, 8:52

        Everyone on Sky & on here as well. I think a lot of people instead of paying attention to the actual behavior of the cars & drivers on track were instead willing Red Bull to be fast based only on last year’s performance & nothing more. I’ve been saying since FP1 that the RB8 hadn’t shown me anything worth writing home about, & it was pretty obvious to me that it wasn’t nearly as composed as the McLaren & Mercedes were. That & the fact that they lost so much time at the last test made me suspect that they didn’t really have the luxury to be sandbagging: they didn’t even carry over their complete upgrade package from Barcelona, so obviously all wasn’t well in the world of Red Bull.
        They’re still chasing some downforce on the rear IMO… I suspect they’ll be back in the thick of things when they finally get their exhaust/bodywork updates sorted, because I definitely don’t think the RB8 is an inherently bad car. For those who were paying attention last year, one of the main reasons the Red Bull (in Vettel’s hands, at least) was so astoundingly fast in qualifying was the EBD: he had so much confidence in the rear of the car staying hooked up on throttle, he was able to deploy his DRS much earlier than anyone else exiting corners. That advantage is no more. The fact that he’s visibly struggling more than Mark makes me think he’s missing the effects of the EBD most… it must be quite a step backwards from what he’s been used to. They’ll catch up though… no doubt in my mind about that.

        • ramy (@ramysennaf1) said on 17th March 2012, 9:15

          right mate, they will catch up, but i believe it will be a 50/50 chance in all races btw mclarens and redbulls, not like last season, REDBULL HAD TOO MUCH ADVANTAGE, IT WAS UNBELIEVABLE HOW VETTEL WAS attacking the grand hotel hairpin in monaco in qualifiying. he had so much stabillity which no other car had,u could notice it clearly, so i can say F1 IS BACK!!!!

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 17th March 2012, 17:55

      Newey was the one who said every piece of car must work to make a great machine but it seems that Red Bull have been investing too much time and money to recover all the grip they’ve lost with EBD ban.

  5. Uncle Ben (@uncleben) said on 17th March 2012, 7:31

    If Schumacher can produce the same quality of starts as he did last year, we’re in for a treat!!!

    • Estesark (@estesark) said on 17th March 2012, 7:32

      It’s a bit easier to overtake lots of cars at the start if there are lots of cars in front of you. I’m sure he’d be delighted to be third after the first corner though.

    • Himmat said on 17th March 2012, 7:36

      Yea. Imagine him doing an Alonso-esque start and getting up to first before the first corner. He’s more than capable of doing that…and also, assuming other teams will take a couple of months to develop a similar system to Mercedes, Micheal has a few races to get Pole and a win. After that, once the advantage is eradicated, it’s gonna be tough.

  6. Estesark (@estesark) said on 17th March 2012, 7:31

    I can’t wait for tomorrow’s race. I think I might just go straight back to sleep now so it comes quicker.

    Some thoughts: brilliant for McLaren, particularly Hamilton. After all he has said about sorting out his personal life ahead of this season, he really needs some good results in the first few rounds to get him off on the right foot. Today he has given himself the best possible chance. Grosjean was phenomenal and his smile was absolutely contagious. Kimi was a bit unlucky – if he hadn’t gone off on his final lap, he would have had time for another, and probably would have knocked Felipe Massa out. It was his own error though. Mercedes clearly have the pace to challenge at the front, protests from Renault-engined team notwithstanding, but Rosberg couldn’t capitalise on it in qualifying. Red Bull have been hit hardest by the loss of downforce – which seems to have made everything so much more exciting again – and I’m astonished if they don’t have KERS again.

    • Dom (@3dom) said on 17th March 2012, 7:38

      I can’t believe that’s year on that KERS still isn’t sorted either. Massive amount of time in F1 and you would have thought that it would be one of the areas they would have looked at first

    • matt90 (@matt90) said on 17th March 2012, 10:47

      I think Kimi coasted to the end of his lap, not realising how little time there was. You could see on his onboard how slow he was through the last couple of corners. And then he was very aggressive into the 1st corner, as though he hadn’t realised yet that he hadn’t started his lap in time.

        • Estesark (@estesark) said on 17th March 2012, 13:07

          Yes, I already saw that quote on a Finnish website. It’s as much the team’s fault as it is his, for not telling him. More so, in fact.

          • matt90 (@matt90) said on 17th March 2012, 13:16

            Yep, very disappointnig for us. Clearly he could have been close to the front.

          • SGracing said on 17th March 2012, 15:17

            Guess tomorrow we will see just how good lotus and kimi will be: ) Not to mention he has his fresh super-softs. Top 10 finish shouldn’t be a problem if so.

      • socksolid (@socksolid) said on 17th March 2012, 17:32

        Well tbh even if Kimi had not slowed down at the end of the lap he still wouldn’t have had enough time for another lap. Unless he had kept his foot down after the moment he had that off track moment he would have not had enough time imho. Either the team put Kimi out on the track 10s late or Kimi lifted off too much to leave himself some gap when he was on the outlap.

        Kind of sad we did not get to see how fast kimi could have gone. Grosjean did superb job though!

        • matt90 (@matt90) said on 17th March 2012, 17:48

          He only missed the cut by a few seconds, and he was going pretty slow for the entire last sector. I’m sure he could have made it had his team kept him informed.

        • Estesark (@estesark) said on 17th March 2012, 20:04

          Actually, @socksolid makes a good point. If you look at this screenshot, which is from the exact time Kimi’s lap time appeared on screen in the closing moments of P1, you can see that he is 42 seconds into his lap with 44 seconds to go. That means that he would have had to complete the lap in under 1:26 in order to have been able to start a new one – but there would have been no point, as he would have been the fastest driver anyway. The best time in Q1 was Kobayashi’s 1:26.182.

          As socksolid says, that means that either he was sent out too late or that he was too slow on his out lap. The off-track excursion he had on his flier was not the factor that stopped him from getting another one – that was his only chance to make it count, and he messed up.

  7. Mouse_Nightshirt (@mouse_nightshirt) said on 17th March 2012, 7:31

    Gobsmacked by Grosjean – where on earth did that come from?! I didn’t see a single sign of that all pre-seasons. Stunning performance, and nice to see a French flag flying high in F1 again.

    I had an inkling that McLaren might take it, but to see Red Bull that far off the pace is somewhat reassuring. Looks like we won’t be seeing a repeat of the whitewash we had last season.

    • Estesark (@estesark) said on 17th March 2012, 7:33

      He was fastest in pre-season testing three times, I think. Didn’t that give you any inkling?

      • Dphect (@dphect) said on 17th March 2012, 8:16

        It wouldn’t really as you could think other teams were sandbagging, which Mac obviously were. Nobody had any clue where they would be on the grid.

        • Estesark (@estesark) said on 17th March 2012, 8:25

          I had a fairly good idea. I would have been very surprised if either McLaren had been outside of the top four in qualifying. I thought they would be one of the top two teams alongside Red Bull, with Mercedes and Lotus behind them. Mercedes are currently a bit ahead of Red Bull, but I’m not sure how long that will last for, and otherwise I think my prediction looks pretty accurate.

          • Novotny (@novotny) said on 17th March 2012, 8:54

            I expected Lotus to be up there – I had bet on them being behind Red Bull and McLaran, leaving Mercedes just behind them and Ferrari right after that. I got the driver wrong, and a lot else, but Lotus (or Renault, as I keep thinking of them) have got a car this year.

          • Eric Morman (@lethalnz) said on 17th March 2012, 9:32

            i thought he might have been up there, in fact i place Grosjean 4th for sunday and Schum 5th, but i think Schum could be higher now maybe even on the Podium, now wouldn’t that make the headlines.
            what am i saying i am a McLaren supporter…

  8. me262 said on 17th March 2012, 7:31

    if Nico hadnt locked up and spoilt his last run he shouldve left the red bulls further back

    • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 17th March 2012, 7:34

      He might have taken pole. He was 0.02 s faster than Hamilton through Sector 2, but slightly slower in Sector 3. Well, I guess we’ll never know.

      I can’t wait until the race tomorrow. Bring on the new season!

      • Dom (@3dom) said on 17th March 2012, 7:41

        Remember that’s compared to lewis’ First run tho. Think he always had it

      • Platanna (@xaviex) said on 17th March 2012, 8:00

        You could see the dissapointment in his body language in the after qualifying weight-in. He knew this was a golden chance for him to be on the front row at least.

      • Lemon (@lemon) said on 17th March 2012, 8:07

        sector two consists of two straights, given mercedes top speed it’s hardly suprising he was quicker…

      • Kenny Davies said on 17th March 2012, 16:58

        He probably wouldn’t have. A lock up is usually caused by carrying too much speed into a corner – which is why he was up on the previous sector. You cant cheat the laws of physics. The faster you go, the more you have to slow down.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th March 2012, 8:03

      I think there’s no question he should at least have been ahead of Schumacher on row two. Front row was possible. Pole? Maybe not.

      • how much did he lose in sector one compared to his fastest time?

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 17th March 2012, 12:09

        yeah, 7/10ths of a sec seems like an awful lot right now. MS 1, NR 0 in quali but great to see the closeness. I have suspected all along that MS crudially needed to work on quali and it would seem he has, in spite of Brawn claiming that NR would still be hard to beat on Saturdays, but great to see NR is still going to be right with him…ie. the car suits them both.

  9. andy.price (@andy-price) said on 17th March 2012, 7:31

    That’s a great result for McLaren. I was concerned that they had gone in different direction from other designers. Grosjean was a huge surprise but good for him, nice to see a new boy near the front, but wow where would Kimi have been? Nice to see a Williams up there lets hope this is the stat of there revival.

    • Novotny (@novotny) said on 17th March 2012, 8:56

      Grosjean is not a new boy.

      • Paul Barrass said on 17th March 2012, 9:14

        @novotny No one seems to remember that aside from that blip of a time in an F1 car before, when he absolutely was not ready, Romain Grosjean is very, very fast in junior formulas against some stiff competition. Honestly though. How good does this season feel already. My only main hope is that Mercedes get to keep their F-Duct, or if it is banned, then at least they recoup that performance elsewhere, helping to keep things tight at the top. I’ve bet on six teams winning formula one races this year, and on this evidence so far, I’m feeling much more confident than I was about that prediction yesterday. Here’s to a great season!

        • Dom (@3dom) said on 17th March 2012, 11:31

          Mercedes’ so called f-duct front wing is genius. People are still trying to determine its benefits, but supposedly it is a duct on the rear wind end plate that pass air back up the car to stall the front wing when DRS is activated to not only give a small increase in top speed but allow the DRS to be opened earlier by stopping the front end from being so “pointy”/the rear wing stepping out when DRS is activated. I can’t see how it’s illegal. Eric Boullier is not protesting the device itself, he’s trying to get it banned by saying that it’s “driver operated” as it comes into effect when DRS is deployed, but the only reason for that is due to the fact it’s a slot that’s always there and always open but is blocked by the upper element of the rear wing when it’s down/DRS closed, and when the element flips up/DRS activated then the duct is exposed to the airflow. It’s very clever and it’s the innovation that so many ppl on this site (and around the world) were hoping the engineers would still be able to produce despite the restrictions the regulations provide. Well done to the mercedes engineers.

          • Hairpin (@hairpin) said on 17th March 2012, 13:27

            Yes I agree with all that Dom say’s, the point being it’s only activated when the DRS is deployed. That’s all well and good for free practice and qually where it can be used anywhere on track when required, but in a race it can only be used when overtaking in the DRS zone, so Merc could see themselves qualify well then go backwards somewhat in the race.

      • Nick said on 17th March 2012, 12:49


    • Kenny Davies said on 17th March 2012, 17:02

      Better still, if Grosjean could stick it in 3rd, what would Kubica have done?? I think better than either Kimi or Grosjean.

  10. Dom (@3dom) said on 17th March 2012, 7:32

    The most beautiful car was the fastest then. Low nose anyone? ;-). Obviously there’s more to it but the car looked so good, it was like it was on rails. So delighted to see grosjean up there too! I knew he’d come good in his comeback, saw home at silverstone last year & he looked classy. I can now stand with Tongue in cheek saying to ppl “I told you so”. He really wasnt given a chance coming in halfway thru the season against alonso. Hope he can do it in the race.

    I’m do annoyed that I changed my prediction for pole from 1:24.9 to 1:24.7!

    F1 certainly hasn’t disappointed with mercedes’ fdfw and mini double diffuser and the other teams’ reaction to it.

    Can’t believe red bull 8 tenths of the pace today despite vettels mistake

  11. Yusha (@freebird78) said on 17th March 2012, 7:33

    I am happy for Lewis. I hope he has a great year and wins the race tomorrow. I am also excited on the prospect of seeing Raikonnen fighting for the podium. The Lotus seems to have good pace. Redbull’s form seems surprising but good for racing at the same time. We have an exciting season ahead of us!!!

    • S.J.M (@sjm) said on 17th March 2012, 8:41

      Whilst im sure you meant from Malaysia, its going to take an effort from Kimi to fight for a Podium tomorrow, but stranger things have happened.

    • dkpioe said on 17th March 2012, 8:44

      i am more excited to see grosjean fight for the podium, he will get a chance tomorrow and possibly place himself as the team leader.

  12. RIISE (@riise) said on 17th March 2012, 7:35

    Although Ferrari are in complete disarray at the moment, I feel completely rejuvenated with the result of qualifying. I never thought I’d feel relief seeing Lewis take pole. Here’s for an amazing potential season.

    • damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 21st March 2012, 9:13

      @RIISE Not only that — but we have Lotus and Mercedes looking capable of taking the fight to Red Bull at some races this year. They were very unlucky last weekend, so I can’t wait to see what happens in Malaysia!

  13. robbiepblake (@driftin) said on 17th March 2012, 7:35

    Absolutely amazing qualifying. Unpredictable, manic, surprising. Let’s hope the rest of the season keeps providing us with this kind of thing.

  14. Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 17th March 2012, 7:38

    Wow. Just wow. McLaren and Mercedes both look mega. And Grosjean! Incredible! We’ve got a season on our hands now boys!

  15. Bleeps_and_Tweaks (@bleeps_and_tweaks) said on 17th March 2012, 7:38

    I know this is totally bias, but after 2 years in the RBR shadow…YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!

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