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.

Q1

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

Q2

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

Q3

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

  1. sato113 (@sato113) said on 17th March 2012, 7:48

    cant wait to see kimi carve through the field!

  2. U2F1 (@u2f1) said on 17th March 2012, 7:48

    happy for Lewis, the season has started on the right note for him and McLaren.. Ferrari, well they need some thinking to do, but i do feel they will be on the money come the next few races, so will RBR
    The biggest surprise surely was Roman, really spectacular drive. I did get the pole time right but the wrong name against it :)

    The first corner tomorrow should be really interesting, so will the Tyre wear for the race – should be a nice one

  3. Palle (@palle) said on 17th March 2012, 7:49

    My guess was HAM on pole in 1:24.632, and for the race:
    HAM
    VET
    BUT
    WEB
    SCH,
    But I think it will be more than difficult for VET to reach second, and a well done to Grosjean. I hope he don’t out brake himself in the first corner and hits someone. Exiting to see some changes in the top pecking order, but I expect RBR and Ferrari to recover somewhat over the season. Alonso was frustrated with his run-off, but it doesn’t change the fact that they have fallen behind several teams, such as Lotus and Mercedes. Hope to see Raikƶnnen getting to grips with the problems next race.

    • rantingmrp (@rantingmrp) said on 17th March 2012, 8:50

      I think this season – at least in the first few races – should show us what kind of driver Vettel is. He had a vastly superior car last season, and never had to fight his way through traffic the way other drivers had to scrap. Will be interesting to see whether Red Bull ask Webber to let Vettel through, seeing as the German is behind the Aussie, and then even more interesting to see how Michael Shumacher deals with Vettel should the younger German have the pace to trouble the Mercedes – which, so far, looks unlikely.

      • Dom (@3dom) said on 17th March 2012, 12:14

        I hope that red bull weren’t lying when they said both drivers will be treated equally at the start of the season. I’m interested in how they’d behave if webber is in front of vetted mid-season

        • Aussie Fan said on 18th March 2012, 2:49

          Yeah right, in q3 yessterday already it was “Mark your KERS is not working”.

          No issues in testing, & yet round 1 & MW looks like out qualifying the ‘Golden Boy’ aka “Finger Boy” so suddenly only Marks RB develops a KERS problem……….again…… ;-(
          Helmut Marko, please just do F1 a favour & leave!

      • Ribf1 (@) said on 17th March 2012, 14:21

        Yeah.

  4. Ritesh (@rits) said on 17th March 2012, 7:51

    What a start to the season eh? There were so many things about today that made it totally exciting and, possibly, the best start to the season I could wish for!

  5. bpacman (@bpacman) said on 17th March 2012, 7:53

    Loving seeing the cars slide all over the place. The blown diffuser rule really has affected rear grip – which makes for fantastic viewing.

    And Grosjean – absolutely brilliant start, I hope he scores a solid result tomorrow.

  6. Toxic (@toxic) said on 17th March 2012, 7:53

    It was so embarrassing for Massa. He had all the time that Alonso lost and still couldn’t even beat him. Really, how bad must he be to sack him. I liked him before but I think he just lost this spark.
    Great job for Grosjean and McLaren. What I am afraid though is the style in which they locked the front row. If this will be the case in few next GP’s than there will be a very small chance of catching them up. Even though Button is P2, he can win it tomorrow. The tires are on his side.

    • Ritesh (@rits) said on 17th March 2012, 7:58

      I, for one, am happy to see McLaren dominate at least the first few races. Been a long long time! Ferrari though, you’ve heard it.. LegoFerrari! Massa has embarrassed himself massively by failing to beat Alonso with his car on a truck!

    • verstappen (@verstappen) said on 17th March 2012, 7:59

      Yeah poor Felipe!
      It really seems something was taken from him at Hungary 2009.

    • Solo (@solo) said on 17th March 2012, 10:39

      It’s not as big of a problem if Mclaren dominate because they at least let their drivers race.

      • caci99 (@caci99) said on 17th March 2012, 13:26

        You mean like this:
        Lewis Hamilton: Jensonā€™s closing in me you guys.
        McLaren: Understood, Lewis.
        Lewis Hamilton: If I back off is Jenson going to pass me or not?
        McLaren: No Lewis, no

        • Shrieker (@shrieker) said on 17th March 2012, 17:52

          Presenting half the story for an agenda is worse than lying. Lewis had done all the pushing in that race while Jenson was saving fuel. Lewis could’ve sat back and relaxed while the Bulls finished 1-2. He did all the job and deserved to ask his team to reign his team mate.

          • F1fanNL (@) said on 17th March 2012, 19:07

            But Vettel wasn’t allowed to tell the team to “be smart” after the team had lost him two places with a disastrous pit stop? Seems like double standards to me.

  7. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 17th March 2012, 7:55

    Only after the finish we can conclude how good the Mclaren and RedBull’s are.
    Our dutch commenter told about the Pirelli’s: You can push for 3 laps, then degradation starts. How much degradation differs per team. And also how much did you abuse your tyres in qualifying. He mentioned that Lotus said they maybe would sacrifice 2 or 3 positions because of this (So, Grosjean could’ve done pole?)

    So there could be something left racepacewise at RedBull. However, their body language – Vettel’s eyes – said something different…

    • Lemon (@lemon) said on 17th March 2012, 8:30

      Unlikely, I think if he had the pace to be on pole he would’ve used it, despite the small amount of extra degredation…but I guess we won’t know until tomorro, can’t wait!…and tbh a few extra tenths on a flying lap is not going to increase degredation enough to warrant holding back…

  8. Slr (@slr) said on 17th March 2012, 7:57

    That was an amazing session, so unpredictable. Lotus and Mercedes look very strong, it’s a shame that Rosberg and Raikkonen messed up their fastest laps, it would have been very interesting to see where they might have ended up.

  9. Jack (@) said on 17th March 2012, 8:00

    Awwwwweee….. seems they really broke his toy this time!!!
    I wonder what the people that considered him to be the next Senna are thinking right now… must be something like: “Darn… I guess it really was the car…” Oh and BTW, what a class act waving his fist at Narain K. in Q1… I guess he feels like they have to jump out of the way for him and foget about their own quick laps… Top notch champion right there!
    Props to Hamilton for beating his sub champion team mate to pole position… True talent canĀ“t be denied for long. Now lets hope nothing “funny” happens in the race… And I really hope His team donĀ“t leave him out to dry with the strategy in order to favour Button….

    Ferrari has a lot of work to do!! Both drivers need to stay off the grass…
    Props to Grosjean!! He ran a great qualifying session!
    Kimi… you have 19 more races to try and be up there in qualy…. I hope you have a better race!
    Schumacher almost had it…. oh and he beat Rosberg! hehehhe Poor Nico… he just choked!! IĀ“m confident MichaelĀ“s race craft will get him up there!!!! Tomorrow could be Historic!!!

    All in all, RBR is back down to earth… Mercedes is a Force to be reckoned with, McLaren wonĀ“t have it easy but they look very strong and at least GrosjeanĀ“s Lotus looked quick! Ferrari…. they need to chop off some more heads and get their act together!

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

      The thing is: Karthikeyan was clearly holding everyone up and he wasn’t going on a quick lap. He’s most likely not even going to be racing tomorrow because of the 107% rule.

      As a Vettel fan, I’d concede he wasn’t up to standard today, and I give Hamilton credit for taking pole today in what was one of the most exciting qualifyings I’ve seen so far, but you have to say that performance is partially down to the car – look at Alonso’s Ferrari!

      And since when has McLaren favoured Button over Hamilton?

      • Jack (@) said on 17th March 2012, 8:22

        @Jo
        Dude… I donĀ“t care if Ferrari didnĀ“t make the top ten. And as for Alonso… even with his car being towed… he managed to end up 12th AND beat his washed up team mate…
        Ferrari really needs to let Felipe go…
        And at least things are clear…. take the kd his toy aways and heĀ“s back to being human!! LMAO!!! IĀ“m even happy Lewis got the pole!!
        Things look like this season is gonna be better than 2010!!

        • Jo (@musicwordsthoughts) said on 17th March 2012, 8:27

          Well, if you’re talking about taking someone’s toys away and him going back to being human, then I’d say it happens to many of the drivers. Not just Vettel. I’d say Hamilton’s pretty guilty of that too before, as is Alonso, but let’s move on from that, I’m actually quite glad someone else is taking pole this race. I like Vettel but I’d prefer a more competitive season, like this one seems to be.

          • Jack (@) said on 17th March 2012, 9:39

            @Jo
            Ohhh what am I hearing now??? A humble Vettel fan??? hahahahahaha I guess having your bum handed to you will do that to you…

            I said it once and IĀ“ll say it again… the kid is good but not as good as what the majority where led to believe… Me, I knew it all along it was all about the car…. Now heĀ“s back to being an above-average driver… And if he ever wins another WDC again… heĀ“ll have to work hard for it!
            Oh and I just read in F1Ā“s officiail webpage, RBR is considering protesting MercedesĀ“wing… The nerve on these guys…. Pucker up sweet hearts, youĀ“re all going for a ride now!!

    • matthew said on 17th March 2012, 8:19

      yeh i agree,they do tend to mess up hamiltons strategy to help button.
      but ron should be at the race,so hopefully that wont happen.
      i dont trust whitmarsh tho.

      • Lemon (@lemon) said on 17th March 2012, 8:36

        Button (and his engineers) just make better decisions when it comes down to it, I’m sure there is no favouring going on! I’m sure there are plenty of occasions Lewis has had a better strategy, china 2011? that was pretty decent..

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

        Ron Dennis was in the pits, keeping a close eye on things (the pattern continues. Every time Ron Dennis is at the race, Hamilton beats Button. You could wager your house on it.), so fingers crossed Whitmarsh doesnt engineer a pit-lane problem for Lewis to let Button overtake him.

        • Solo (@solo) said on 17th March 2012, 10:49

          I’m preparing a cardboard Dennis to give as a gift to Lewis so he can put him at the back of the garage to scare Whitmarch that Dennis is watching him, lol.

          Come on guys lets get serious.

          • OOliver said on 17th March 2012, 11:31

            I say this all the time, but people think I am accusing Withmarsh of sabotaging Lewis’ race.
            The fact is, there are windows of opportunities that may become available during the races. Pitting a driver a lap earlier or later can influence the finishing position especially when they don’t have the fastest car.
            When you have to fast drivers, it becomes difficult to strategize to get both of them to finish well, you end up having to sort out one’s strategy first then look for the next available window for the other.
            In 2010 when Hamilton was still in contention for the championship at the very last race. Button came up with his, I will retire if there are team orders.
            This then forces Withmarsh’s hands into always over compensating Button to ensure he doesn’t feel he is being marginalised.

            Of course, Hamilton’s race engineers always seem to be out of the strategy loop. How that happens I don’t know. Either the chap is incompetent, or just believes that what every side of the garage wins, is ok for Mclaren
            Till date, I don’t yet know if Hamilton and his new race engineer work well together, it often seems they are trying to boss him and make it seem like they can control when he overtakes or not.

            Hamilton has his faults, but the team is not extracting the maximum from him.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th March 2012, 21:31

            Hamilton has his faults, but the team is not extracting the maximum from him.

            Yeah he’s only on pole position. They’re really screwing him over, what a bunch of cads.

            I think not.

          • Jack said on 18th March 2012, 4:23

            @Keith Collantine
            Well itĀ“s the first race, first Qualy, etc… Everybody got an equal chance yesterday! Even Webber got a chance to run free, hence him being 1 spot ahead of “wonder boy”.
            All we are saying is, at least I am, hopeing they donĀ“t mess up LewisĀ“ chances because of dumb pit strategies… something that mysteriously never happens for Button…

  10. graham228221 (@graham228221) said on 17th March 2012, 8:02

    Fantastic qualifying session, really enjoyed it and can’t wait for tomorrow.

    Have to say, Sky are doing an amazing job so far and I’m really glad I signed up – it wasn’t too much more for me because I was subscribed to BT vision previously. The team really seem to be enjoying the freedom that a dedicated channel brings. My girlfriend even enjoyed watching the F1 show last night (which had Ted and Georgie in the paddock late into the evening), which is really saying something.

    • ChimpSafari said on 17th March 2012, 9:10

      Sky’s coverage is good but I cant stand that screaming commentator!

      • I think the problem with their time management .. they haven’t giving enough time to ross brawn etc .. after interview …he still standing there and he started asking some otherr question to brundle… they should give some more respect to people they take interviews ..should wait for couple of seconds until they leave the place before starting the new topic to discuss

  11. mrgrieves (@mrgrieves) said on 17th March 2012, 8:04

    Hate to say it but the top 6 in FP3 was very close to the top 6 in qualifying

  12. smudgersmith1 (@smudgersmith1) said on 17th March 2012, 8:06

    Wonderful start, so many sub plots, Lewis on form, JB just a 10th back instead of 2/10ths, RB’s nowhere, Vettel behind Webber, Mercedes are lightning fast, (don’t get jumped at the start JB) Schumi ahead of Rosberg and looking like a dog with two …. Ferrari in no mans land and…… Grosjean ! What a star, massive admiration for the guy, he was knocked for 6 last time in F1, rebuilt himself and made a stellar start to qualifying. God this is going to be a great season if this continues.

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

      Mercedes are lightning fast, (donā€™t get jumped at the start JB)

      Having a look at many of Schumacher’s starts from last year, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s leading the race by turn 1. :)

      • Jack (@) said on 17th March 2012, 8:24

        @Kingshark
        Maybe not turn 1 but I bet Schumi is up for a win or even a podium finish!! HeĀ“s due!!!

      • smudgersmith1 (@smudgersmith1) said on 17th March 2012, 14:23

        That’s what I’m worried about, plus they are so fast on the straight, even DRS might not help, I am intrigued by the first real battle for ages in McLaren to see who manages the tyres the best , can’t see anything but a Hamilton or JB win…..

  13. TED BELL said on 17th March 2012, 8:13

    Could it be possible that Ferrari have already pulled the plug on this new chassis and will now pursue a McLaren style chassis in hopes of chasing down a better path to the title??
    Dump the pull rod stuff and the step nose and simply copy the MP427.

    • Jack (@) said on 17th March 2012, 8:30

      I donĀ“t think so…. I think they just didnĀ“t need the pull rod suspension up front… and geez…. at least they shouldĀ“ve tried to make the step a bit more aerodynamic…. Maybe they should look into a better stepped nose!!
      What ever the case may be…. they need to chop of some more heads… kick Felipe to the curb and get their act together… My hopes are that at least Alnso can try and tame this prancing pony… although my guess is that they gave him a Fiat once again… looks like another bad season…

    • Lemon (@lemon) said on 17th March 2012, 8:51

      Are they even allowed to make a new chassis?

    • smokinjoe (@smokinjoe) said on 17th March 2012, 11:09

      When i saw the first pictures of Ferrari i thought this car looks ugly with the stepped nose but maybe its lighting fast and that will made up for the looks,but sadly its a dog of a car.Whatever Ferrari guys have to do they have do it pretty fast not like last year when they have to wait till silverstone for there first win.

  14. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 17th March 2012, 8:14

    Oh wow. That was a thriller.

  15. vet4 said on 17th March 2012, 8:16

    redbulls are struggling….
    let’s hope the lotus can get ahead of th mclaren for a REALLY shocking start to the season.

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