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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Image ?? McLaren/Hoch Zwei

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

  1. Girts (@girts) said on 17th March 2012, 7:39

    What a Saturday! This is a very promising start to the new season. Red Bull beaten, Lotus surprisingly strong and Mercedes have closed the gap to the front, one could hardly ask for more. And I have already scored my first points in the 2012 F1F predictions championship :)

    I had expected a bit more from Caterham and HRT. I thought both teams had made more progress over the winter. It’s also sad to see Massa struggling that much. I didn’t think Raikkonen would fail to reach Q2 although the fact that Grosjean beat him doesn’t surprise me much.

    Schumacher is fighting for the podium at least and Vettel just said that Red Bull’s set-up should suit the race conditions well. Tomorrow can’t come soon enough!

    • Dom (@3dom) said on 17th March 2012, 8:03

      I had expected a bit more from Caterham and HRT. I thought both teams had made more progress over the winter. It’s also sad to see Massa struggling that much.

      I expected more from caterham & hrt too. Thought their chassis’ looked good, just goes to show how the other elements of the car have to be in complete harmony to produce the extra lap time.

      It seems a shame that for massa who has shown brilliance at times in his career is struggling with the car when he really needs to shine

      • OOliver said on 17th March 2012, 9:30

        Caterham were a bit unlucky this qualifying, but nonetheless, I believe they still don’t yet have the experience to extract the maximum from their package.
        They are a little bit in no mans land at the moment, just slightly behind the mid runners.
        Until we get to those tracks with a very simple layout, they are clearly 1.5+ seconds ahead of Marussia, and HRT don’t yet know where they are.
        It is hard to say right now if the Caterham has good development potential.

  2. Zecks said on 17th March 2012, 7:39

    Very exciting!!! And to think if nico hadnt muffed his lap I was on for a 50 point race! As for the season, ignore roman at your peril.

  3. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 17th March 2012, 7:41

    Red Bull look average. They are still fast, but nowhere near the dominance of last year.
    Mclaren looks like the car to beat.
    Mercedes looks mega fast. I think they could’ve done much better today.
    Lotus also looks great. To bad for Kimi.
    Ferrari is a dog, no, it’s worse than a dog. I thin Ferrari might be the worse of the established teams. Yes, they are THAT bad!

  4. Himmat said on 17th March 2012, 7:41

    We actually still don’t know what Mercedes’ and Lotus’ absolute pace is. Roman did well to take 3rd, but judging by what been said all the while, Kimi is a little better. So maybe they still are a tenth or two off their ultimate pace, which is great!

    Also, Michael was a tenth off Hamilton’s time in Q3 after the first and second sectors. He was a tenth down in S1, and held steady is S2. Then he loses 3 tenths in S3. Maybe a mistake there, we can’t be sure. Rosberg, on the other hand, definitely underperformed. Assuming last year’s pattern holds true (him being 3 – 5 tenths faster than Michael in qualifying), he would have been right in the thick of it.

    The best part though is that Ferrari look to be a whole second or more off-pace, and Red Bull some 5 tenths away.

    I hope Michael gets a win or a Pole for his comeback, would make for a real good story, but he really has 3-4 races to get it done. After that the apparent advantage from the DRS system they have will be eradicated.

    • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 17th March 2012, 7:42

      Knowing from last year how Michael is always better in the race than in qualifying, we could be up for something tomorrow! :p

    • schumi the greatest said on 17th March 2012, 9:26

      I think Schumacher may be a little closer to Rosberg this season…he does look a lot better than he has the last 2 years…perhaps that mercedes suits his driving style a bit better than the last 2! good to see someone other than Vettel on pole!

      Really want a big season from Lewis so this is the perfect start just hope he can manage the tyres better in the races! I could tell Red Bull were struggling..they just never looked that “hooked up” now we’ll really see what Vettel can do. He’s in a car a few tenths of the pace so he needs to drive development of the team and make the difference.

      Cant wait for it to start! come on lewis!

  5. Asif (@) said on 17th March 2012, 7:41

    A stepped nose car is not on pole….. shocking!

    Does anyone else sense a titanic battle between Lewis and Jenson this year…… Lewis will probably continue to have an edge in raw pace but Jenson’s consistency will be something to reckon with. All of this is assuming that Mclaren continues to have an edge during the year

    • blackmamba said on 17th March 2012, 7:53

      Jenson is such a whiner, did you hear him making evcuses over the radio about how he lost time? I strggle to overlook that side of him, making excuses everytime in qualy!

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th March 2012, 8:02

        That’s because you choose to see it as “making excuses” rather than what it really is – which is Button doing his job, trying to identify what’s wrong with the car and how to make it faster.

        • Estesark (@estesark) said on 17th March 2012, 8:06

          Agreed. To me it sounded like “thanks for all your work, it was my fault that I couldn’t get it closer to Lewis or on pole”. I guess some people choose to interpret it in a way that suits them.

          • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 17th March 2012, 8:12

            Yep @estesark and @keithcollantine, it sounded to me like: okay I didn’t make it, sorry guys, but pretty good job nevertheless, and I know where we/I lost us that bit of time, so nothing wrong with the car you gave me.

        • dcjohnson (@dcjohnson) said on 17th March 2012, 8:08

          Pundits didn’t really pick up that Lewis, only had a single run and lost time in the middle sector, plus his second set of tyres are newly new…the gap to Button was more than 0.15

          • dcjohnson (@dcjohnson) said on 17th March 2012, 8:21

            Actually I take some of that back, it appears Hamilton duffed his second lap…braking too late at turn one !!!

      • Asif (@) said on 17th March 2012, 8:08

        Jenson is a really smart man. He has concluded by now that he will always trail Lewis in talent (plus he ain’t getting younger) so he want’s to get an edge with mind games. He will keep working on the narrative that he has more race craft, that there isn’t much between them and that he is more embedded in the team.

        Christian Horner no doubt knew that if Mclaren were fast that Lewis would be the threat but again Christian said he is worried about Jenson. They figured Lewis was down after 2011 so let’s step on his throat some more

        • Asif (@) said on 17th March 2012, 8:10

          lol wants instead of want’s

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

          @f1asif : Actually I don’t think, Jenson is any less talented than Hamilton. On the contrary there are times when Button has outclassed Hamilton by a long margin. Both the drivers have their own skills and one complements the other. I see no reason why Button would want to play mind games with Lewis, I mean it is not like his place is in threat and they did lock out the front row.

          • Asif (@) said on 17th March 2012, 8:58

            Proof that Lewis has an edge in pace is that he had an edge throughout quali today and you’ll likly see him have a 75% to 25% quali edge as the year evolves. I agree that they have their own skills and that Jenson’s maturity compensates for a lot of the gap in raw pace plus his instints in the wet. However my feeling is that if McLaren has a dominant car this year and Lewis is not getting into trouble with Fillipe (good he is at a lowly 16th) then you’ll likely see Lewis come out ahead. But let’s see it should be great fun!

            Though they are certainly friendly, I think competitive animals like these always play mind games. Lewis will readly do it to Jenson also though they like each other as individuals. They both always want to dominate the other guy.

        • Baron said on 17th March 2012, 14:24

          Some of the comments made here are more entertaining than the racing, but it could be put down to “lost in translation” Perhaps it might be better if we knew posters native language so that allowances can be made.

          One thing is for sure – ALL the drivers are heros and at the top of their game. How could anyone doubt this? For example “Maldonado is only a pay driver” – well he’s certainly done his talking on the track this time and fair play to him – hope there’s more to come. Remember that a tenth is a lot in F1 terms but it’s only a few yards on the track.

          In 2012, try and be nice – reserve your hate & sarcasm for people that REALLY deserve it.

      • Kenny Davies said on 17th March 2012, 12:23

        I think this is the year that the love fest between the McLaren boys will implode – no doubt helped by Martin (NO, Jenson will not overtake) Whitmarsh’s favoritism, displayed a few times last season. Lets just hope he doesn’t not undermine Lewis’s pole by giving Jenson favorable race strategy again.
        Last year, it seems Macca expected Lewis is always to duke it out based on speed alone, whilst Jenson got the helping hand on strategy – even when Lewis was ahead. This was a much different scenario from the Merc, RBR and Ferrari garages.

  6. smokinjoe (@smokinjoe) said on 17th March 2012, 7:41

    I wonder if new Ferrari was a evolution of the last year car , rather the going for this radical new approach they could have been much better.

    • OOliver said on 17th March 2012, 9:50

      I was wondering the same myself. They had a very good car last year that only just needed more laps to go faster.
      It may be too late to change the design philosophy, but they can still alter their exhaust layout, the present one seems to be giving inconsistent results.

  7. UnitedKingdomRacing (@unitedkingdomracing) said on 17th March 2012, 7:41

    Formula 1 finally come alive again after at least one year of boring dominance. For McLaren we can only hope for a year like 1998. Congratulations also to Mercedes and Schumacher as well as Grosjean. RBR ultimatly have to fight again so its good to see Webber instantly beating Vettel.

  8. Katz, Tim said on 17th March 2012, 7:42

    Interesting that there is only one Ferrari engined car in the top ten. And that five of the seven cars eliminated in Q2 were Ferrari powered. Coincidence?

  9. Knightmare (@knightmare) said on 17th March 2012, 7:43

    I wonder if Mercedes will have similar race pace like they have shown in qualifying session , specially when their ‘f-duct’ only works when DRS is enabled.

  10. Panda said on 17th March 2012, 7:43

    A Ferrari fan, so obviously I am disappointed. But the presence of Alonso and his sheer determination to push the car to its limits, amazes me and brings hope to me that Ferrari can turn it around. Massa has had a nightmare since his return from the injury. He must put that out of his mind. Maybe he isn’t pushing enough post the accident.

    Great to see the Rainmaster back to his best and considering that he usually has his best performance reserved for the races, I am sensing a podium or a win for Schumi. It is great to see a lot of competition this season. Vettel will dethroned as the WDC.

    I know it is soon to conclude but looking at the amount of cars which are within tenths of each other, RB will not have it easy like in 2010 and 2011. Which also means Ferrari still got time to get their act clean not to only close the gap but put some gap between them and the other teams.

    Closing the gap is no longer the benchmark now a days.

  11. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 17th March 2012, 7:43

    Great result for Grosjean! I’m just glad that F1 is properly back! Tomorrow should be fantastic!

  12. Am watching the race in Seychelles. Great results for mclaren. Let’s see if they can keep the pace during the race. Hamilton has started on the right foot, keep it Lewis.

  13. Troy Alexander (@troy-alexander) said on 17th March 2012, 7:46

    Great way to start the morning. Great pole lap by Hamilton and McLaren are looking good. I hope for a 1-2 tomorrow.

  14. blackmamba said on 17th March 2012, 7:47

    you took the words right out of my keyboard!!! it’s a lovely day isn’t it?

  15. JSC (@jsc) said on 17th March 2012, 7:47

    Great session of qualifying. But if this continues, I wonder how long it will be until Horner starts talking about ‘unequal engines’ again.

    • F1fanNL (@) said on 17th March 2012, 8:34

      Probably just as long as it took Witmarsh to mention the flexing front wing last year.

      They’re team principals, it’s what they do. It’s all politics and mind games and even though they often know it won’t make a difference they do it anyway. When they can’t beat other teams on track they’ll try it off track.

      • OOliver said on 17th March 2012, 10:02

        Redbull really had magical wings last season. If you look at the front wing of the Williams car, they have a cantilever style mounting from the upright, perhaps to enable them pitch downwards at speeds.

      • OOliver said on 17th March 2012, 10:03

        Redbull really had magical wings last season. If you look at the front wing of the Williams car, they have a cantilever style mounting from the upright, that is, the mounting point is further back along the wing chord, perhaps to enable them pitch downwards at speeds.

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