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

  1. Woaw!! Massively disappointed that I missed the qualifying because I had to wake up early! Anyways Keith, thanks for the qualifying report, it was great help this morning and it one of the things that sets your website apart from the rest.

  2. Hollis Graham (@) said on 17th March 2012, 12:12

    So happy for the McLaren boys and Grosjean. I hope Schumi can transform the fourth into a win. As for the red bulls It’s nice to have someone else at the front and I just hope Webber can achieve a good race finish. The thing I am most upset about is the Ferraris performance. I hope Massa can do well this season (which I find unlikely) and Alonso can be competitive

  3. The Limit said on 17th March 2012, 12:18

    A great performance from Lewis and McLaren today, exactly what was needed from Hamilton’s perspective. However, the Ferrari today looked like a horror show on wheels, making it obvious why the Scuderia banned their drivers from talking to the press a few weeks ago. For all the posturing and spin Alonso gave during testing, trying to remain positive, Ferrari’s weaknesses were laid bare today for the world to see. In all honesty, I don’t think I have ever seen a worse Saturday performance from them in the last fifteen or so years of F1. It was that bad!
    Alot of people were looking at Red Bull and Sebastien Vettel for all of the obvious reasons, and for them to be so far off McLaren will raise eyebrows. But for me, the speed of both Mercedes should be a concern for Christian Horner and co. tomorrow. Both Schumacher and Rosberg are carrying alot of speed, and as others have mentioned, if not for a lockup during his hotlap, Rosberg would have been alot higher up the grid.
    I am interested to find out what strategy Ross Brawn and the boys have for the race, but I am convinced that this team is going to put noses out of joint this season. Red Bull are missing something, the blown difuser being the obvious reason, compared to last year, but the car is nowhere near 2011 levels of performance ‘yet’ which has made tomorrow’s grands prix all the more interesting.

  4. pierre le fleur said on 17th March 2012, 12:20

    What an interesting day! Albert Park is a lot of fun and there are some great places to watch the cars.
    Watched FP3 head-on at Turn 11 through 12 which showed some obvious performance differentials between the cars:
    the Macs looked totally sorted through the corners,
    the Lotii were incredibly fast into 11 and took it like they were on rails but may have paid a price for it through 12 and really bounced over the bump (if no podium this weekend then definitely next),
    the Mercs rolled a lot into 11 (the outside front wing endplate touching the ground while the inside wing was way up in the air) – couldn’t see whether they were rolling through 12,
    the Bulls didn’t seem planted like expected and sounded like they had low engine revs through 12 (gearing or traction?),
    the Saubers and FIs looked good but were ultimately outdone by the Williams,
    the STRs need to change their colours, particularly if they’re going to run at the same speed as the RBs,
    the green Cats and the Marussias didn’t look that bad, but
    the HRTs were absolutely horrendous under brakes (but didn’t look that bad when accelerating).
    If I’ve forgotten any teams it’s because it’s too embarrassing.

    • Snafu (@snafu) said on 17th March 2012, 13:11

      not sure if your last line was sarcasm or not, but you forgot Ferrari…:D

    • John H (@john-h) said on 17th March 2012, 15:34

      Thanks for this feedback from the track. Something you can’t get from the TV! Interesting to hear about the Merc’s I presume softish suspension. I’m really interested to see how they are going to treat their tyres tomorrow in the race. If the F-duct works, perhaps Rosberg can win his first race come Sepang.

  5. Andy said on 17th March 2012, 12:22

    I’m suprised nobody made a direct comparison with last year’s times:

    1. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 1m 23.529s
    2. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1m 24.307s
    3. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 1m 24.395s
    4. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1m 24.779s
    5. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 24.974s
    6. Vitaly Petrov Russia Renault-Renault 1m 25.247s
    7. Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 25.421s
    8. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 25.599s
    9. Kamui Kobayashi Japan Sauber-Ferrari 1m 25.626s
    10. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 27.066s

    Obviously the top teams lost quite a chunk with the banning of directly blowing the diffuser. Last year in Silverstone it showed for McLaren to be a disaster, but with their new car they minimalised the loss to 6 tenths of a second. It’s a bit difficult to get a clear view on the loss of Red Bull; if we take the top times it’s 2.1 seconds, but Red Bull didn’t get to use the full potentional of their car, as Vettel made a mistake and Webber his KERS didn’t work. For the Webber, the same happend last year, so if we focus solely on his times the difference is 1.3 seconds, but as Webber also struggled with the tires last year, this would also not be highly accurate. So Red Bull lost between 1.3 and 2.1 seconds, which we can say is HUGE.

    Interesting is that Mercedes lost nothing, even gained on last year. Schumacher best time was a tenth better then Rosberg his time last year, but Rosberg was set to beat Schumachers time this year if he didn’t made that error.

    I’m not going to begin about Ferrari. Last year they were whining and crying about how unfair exhaust blowing was for them. Now that steps are taken to reduce that significantly, they are even worse off.

    • Aussie Fan said on 17th March 2012, 12:30

      Re “Rosberg was set to beat MS’s time”, really? He made a mistake that cost him 3 tenths & he ended up 3 tenths behind MS. What about MS losing a bit of time in the last sector, if not for that he could have challenged for at least 2nd today in my opinion. Its all relative, but the results are what they are.

      • Andy said on 17th March 2012, 12:37

        Rosberg was very dissapointed afterwards, suggesting he could have beaten Schumacher and perhaps gotten very near the Macs. Anyhow, that’s not the point anyway. The point was that Mercedes might even be better then the times suggest and that their improvement is partly masked.

        • Robbie (@robbie) said on 17th March 2012, 13:06

          Yeah, and JB could have done a little better too. But he didn’t. And here we are. Great to see NR potentially right up there with MS and the Macs, but the fact is NR didn’t quite put it together. I’m just comforted to see that it was at least there for him within his grasp and that for all drivers any little error is going to be costly due to the cars’ closeness. I’d rather see guys have the equipment and have the deciding factor be within their control to err or not, as opposed to being handcuffed by the car’s inability and have that be the deciding factor as to placings.

    • Palle (@palle) said on 17th March 2012, 14:43

      Great analysis Andy. I was looking at it also. You can see that the time difference from pole to number 8 was +2 sec last year, this year <1 sec. Maybe this means that it will be easier during the race to reach the top from lower grid positions? With the problems Raik├Ânnen had during training sessions, I don't expect him to come much up through the field.
      But maybe RBR isn't that far of, because last year their best time in P3 was app. 1 sec slower than Q3, whereas this year WEB only improved 0.25 sec and VET only 0.55 sec. This indicates that RBR's could have been 2. and 3. respectively. Can't wait to see tomorrow.

      • Andy said on 17th March 2012, 16:31

        Well, Raikkonen only used 1 set of softs or even mediums. He’ll have quite alot of fresh tires so that’ll play in his advantage. Not sure if it is still there, but the last couple of years the car seems to have great traction so maybe he can have a good start and with the pace of the 3th fastest car on the grid he’ll probably got into the points.

        About Red Bull: let’s assume Webber was able to use KERS. It would mean he would be roughly 0.5 seconds faster. He would be 3th then. So yeah: Red Bull could have been much further up the grid, but as expected the smallest poblem (webber) or the smallest mistake (vettel) makes you drop several places on the grid. I don’t think any of them would have beaten button though.

  6. carlos said on 17th March 2012, 13:48

    10 minutes into the 2012 season and Speed TV commentators are already saying “poor Massa”..*** guys. Ferrari so far is a dud..well, maybe, i saw Alonso up there in 6th place for a while.

    • Nigel said on 17th March 2012, 14:43

      ” Ferrari so far is a dud..well, maybe ”

      No, right now it really is a dud. Didn’t you also see the pictures of the Ferrari through the corners ? Both drivers were having to correct massively (and clearly Alonso is a lot better than Massa at doing so).

      If Ferrari can develop it into a driveable package, then it will have speed, but at the moment, there is no real indication that they even know which direction to go in.

      It looks like they have designed a car with high maximum downforce, but which is also dynamically unstable and unpredictable.

      Let’s see how it looks during the race.

    • John H (@john-h) said on 17th March 2012, 15:38

      I wonder whether the car Ferrari ran at Silverstone last year with a slightly lower nose would be better than this year’s car!

    • svianna (@svianna) said on 17th March 2012, 15:44

      Ferrari needs to sack Massa ASAP. As late as last week, when Alonso said that Ferrari would struggle in Melbourne, Massa would not discount the possibility of a podium finish…he obviously wants to save face with Ferrari, but he is not Ferrari material.

      Lewis will have to be careful with Massa again this year…when he drops Felipe 1 or 2 laps down…

  7. McLarenFanJamm (@mclarenfanjamm) said on 17th March 2012, 13:52

    I am thrilled (as you might expect). This compounded by the fact that Ferrari really are in a mess. Mercedes and Lotus have lots of pace, RBR slighty behind them. (Also, makes a mockery of all the press still saying RBR were miles ahead in testing, when really not even the teams knew the order).

    Also, those saying “it’s all about the car” with Lewis, I assume this wasn’t the case with Vettel? Despite the 15 pole positions and 11 race victories last year…

    • Palle (@palle) said on 17th March 2012, 17:25

      The car – or driving system package – is the most important thing. After that comes the driver, and of course there is great differences in drivers abilities, but no doubt that the world champions are in a special league, along with a few who have not yet had the luck of getting to drive a package, which could provide them with the possibility. But remember F1 is not about finding the best driver – if it was they would all be fitted with a standard car supplied by FIA.

  8. Ribf1 (@) said on 17th March 2012, 14:28


  9. Ribf1 (@) said on 17th March 2012, 14:32

    With all the surprises from qualifying,a very exciting season awaits us.

  10. sb360 said on 17th March 2012, 14:57

    I would not be at all surprised to see neither Ferrari finish tomorrow, it looks wayward and frustrating to drive, and I am not sure Alsono will have the patience to keep it on the road if he starts to drop back.

  11. Lets hope tomorow Grosjean jumps Button off the line, allows Hamilton to sail off into the Australian sunset, while holding up the pack of Mercs/Redbulls to allow for some great viewing pleasure.. ;D

    • kenneth Ntulume said on 17th March 2012, 15:34

      viewing pleasure is when we are seeing racing, not a blockade, i thought!

      • Himmat said on 17th March 2012, 17:25

        What makes you think Roman will cause a blackade eh? I think 3rd place for him is no fluke. The Lotus clearly had potential in pre-season tests, and it showed here!

        Anyways, don’t be surprised if he turns he tables by jumping good ol’ Button at the start and starts hounding Hamilton for the win…!

  12. Jake said on 17th March 2012, 15:37

    Hamilton likes a car with a rear end that moves around he tends to turn the car on the rear axle, it’s a karting technique. Last year ebd turned that onto its head and meant that Hamiltons style no longer worked for him as when he got on the throttle he ended up with a stack of understeer and a rear bolted to the track, totally the opposite to how a kart with 0 aerodynamic effect espeacially no ebd. Vettel clearly suited ebd as did Button, this year due to the exclusion of ebds we will a different type of driving/racing dynamics, one that suits Hamiltons preferred driving style. Love seeing Lewis competitive again.

    • John H (@john-h) said on 17th March 2012, 15:40

      Totally agree with this. It also makes Jenson’s qualifying time actually quite impressive. Hamilton’s right when he says Jenson will be is biggest rival (for this race, but also probably for the season). Expect fireworks between the two with Hamilton going to Mercedes in 2013 after winning the championship!

    • Sam Binfield said on 17th March 2012, 19:10

      Perhaps it should also be added that part of a karts unique cornering properties comes from the lack of a differential as much as it does the weight/aero distribution, though your point still stands. Regardless, tomorrow’s race is one that I’m very much looking forward to! :)

    • Alexandre said on 17th March 2012, 21:20

      Hamilton has always been quick in one lap. Let’s see how he handles the tires (and Button).

  13. Marcello said on 17th March 2012, 15:42

    Hi all, I’m a real passionate F1 fan who has followed every single f1 race and qualys (and most of practises) for the last 20 years. However due to the BBC cutting out half its races Ive already missed my first qualy and I am set to miss my first race in 20 yrs tomorro — gutted. I cant afford sky and although I did watch the highlights on the BBC, A)- it’s never the same
    B)- the coverage was defnintely below par
    Q3 went down from 20 mins to 11 in the first minute, the old chemistry was missing, no EJ, and the lead commentator didnt feel at ease, gthe whole thing was pretty unexiting especially at the end in q3.
    But the worse thing of all by far is not being able to watch the race live.
    As you are all F1 fans I was wondering whether any of you could suggest a way of watching the coverage legally maybe through the net. I tried Italian rai tv but they scramble the signal.
    help any1?

    • sb360 said on 17th March 2012, 15:57

      I think you can buy yourself a SkyGo one month ticket to get the full Sky coverage, not sure on costings but Keith did a few posts on it back when it was first announced that sky had the rights, search this site and there are a few options listed.

    • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 17th March 2012, 15:58

      The racing was great, but I agree the BBC coverage was very poor. The commentary team was good as is the anchor Humphrey but the production was just awful. I’ve watched the odd race delayed over the years when I couldn’t watch live for one reason or another, but the quality of the BBC output today reminded me of their delayed highlights from the 1980s.

      • sb360 said on 17th March 2012, 16:01

        By contrast I was pleasantly surprised by the sky coverage, I was in the fortunate position of being able to take the plunge and subscribe, but getting access to SkyGo will give you temporary access to all their sports stuff and a few of the regular channels as well.

        • Marcello said on 17th March 2012, 16:31

          the sky operator tells me its 35 a month for that :(

          • sb360 said on 17th March 2012, 16:52

            It may well be, its not an ideal solution but for a lot of people it may be the only legal one, and I think you will be hard pressed finding a pub that will show it at 6 in the morning. Not sure on Sky’s rules or monitoring of it but do you have any friend or family with sky who may let you use their Sky Go for the races ?

      • SimBri (@f1addict) said on 17th March 2012, 17:04

        I watched both and actually thought the BBC highlights were far, far better than Sky’s live broadcast. The production was much better – Sky’s seems very amateurish to me, and their pre-recorded pieces are rubbish. Better commentary from Edwards and Coulthard. BBC also had the interviews, although I suppose we’ll get them before the race tomorrow on Sky. Not having EJ was fantastic, not only did we not have to listen to his garbled musings but Coulthard is better when he’s not visibly annoyed by his presence. Unfortunately I understand he will be back, which may change my opinion.

        I’m thinking I might watch the 10 races that the BBC has live on the BBC (and then later on Sky!)

    • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 17th March 2012, 15:59

      Actually, no EJ was probably the only silver lining for me (apart from the fantastic driving and final result of course)

      • sb360 said on 17th March 2012, 16:24

        Wholeheartedly agree, he wound me up no end last year. Jake Humphries and DC were good though. Not completely convinced by Damon Hill as a pundit yet but the rest of the team on Sky seem allright.

  14. Marcello said on 17th March 2012, 16:07

    thanks guys, appreciate that. Although Im gonna struggle to afford to pay for viewing sky for a few different reasons, i am currently checking out how much skygo would set me back per month thanks anyway

    • Palle (@palle) said on 17th March 2012, 17:41

      I feel for You Marcello. I have to watch it on RTL, where the commentator can’t pronounce Hamilton’s name correctly – it sounds like Amltn or something like that. And even if I do understand German I hate when they dub a realtime interview in English with a German translation on the fly – it becomes very confusing. I’ll check if You can watch it over the internet – often You have to have a VPN solution to get an IP adress in the country of the channels origin (In this way I watch BBC over the net – this is a secret of course;-))

  15. Geo (@geo) said on 17th March 2012, 16:58

    I have a good feeling Romain may challenge for the win. The Lotus with its more fuel efficient Renault engine so he will be starting on a lighter fuel load. That combined with the duel DRS zones and the fact that Romain has been winning races regularly he is confident and could easily have a good year. Of course Schumacher should never be underestimated. It would be beautifully ironic if someone who has never been world champion won the championship amongst 6 other world champions

    • sb360 said on 17th March 2012, 17:05

      That would be a very impressive stat, in all honestly though I am struggling to look past Hamilton for the win, he seems to have a calmer head on his shoulders this year, he has not lost any of the pace and for the first time in a couple of years he has a decent car underneath him. As nice as it would be for Romain, I feel he is unlikely to be able to hold onto the podium, very hard to judge comparative race pace though, we could end up with a reverse of last year where RB are unable to qualify but have blistering long run speed, only Sunday will tell us for sure.

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