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. Albert Tarra (@albert-tarra) said on 17th March 2012, 17:17

    i can’t belived,fantastic, all mercedes engine in top ten,but renault too,i think it would be most competitive year in f1 history, i expect all mercedes customers are strong…….don’t mention for ferrari…….

  2. UKFan (@) said on 17th March 2012, 17:45

    I got everything right! Whos the strongest teammate, strongest car but I never thought that Grosjean who had been beaten by Alonso would beat Raikkonen.

  3. nemo87 (@nemo87) said on 17th March 2012, 18:01

    I’m so excited about this season.. Even bought myself a shiny new iPad so I can watch sky sports f1 at work haha :)

  4. Biscuitbum said on 17th March 2012, 18:03

    I was reading yesterday that McLaren had all but admitted they got it wrong with the lowered chassis. The reduced downforce was supposed to be a major disadvantage of the design. Can we assume that all the other `improvements` they have made, ie the whole package, have counteracted this disadvantage, or were the benefits of the higher chassis, resulting in the odd platypus shape, overstated.

    • Dizzy said on 17th March 2012, 18:22

      From what I gather the higher front end produces more downforce & potentially has more area for aero development.

      The lower nose allows a suspension setup that produces more mechanical grip but potentially has less room for aero development.

      Melbourne is a track where mechanical grip is fairly important, Especially when the track is lacking grip like it was today so the lower front end may be a benefit this weekend. However in some of the more aero dependant tracks the lower front end could prove a slight disadvantage.

      Overall however the benefits & negatives of both are very marginal so won’t be the reason one team does better than another.

    • Lemon (@lemon) said on 17th March 2012, 21:06

      well they must be gaining time somewhere else (other than their nose), beacuse reading track side reports from spain and here rumors suggest they have the best high speed aero….and even whitmarsh himself in an interview from testing said something along the lines that mclaren were strong in high speed corners but lacked a bit in the low speed…Given the pole position (and the fact they looked pretty strong through turns 11, 12) this would have to support these rumors..

      • Lemon (@lemon) said on 17th March 2012, 21:08

        and lets be honest ferrari have a super high nose, and where is their downforce?

        • Dizzy said on 18th March 2012, 0:19

          Ferrari’s problem is not a lack of downforce, Not at the front at least.

          There problems at the front end is a lack of understanding of there push-rod suspension system.
          There problem with rear end grip is part suspension & part there exhaust layout not blowing the gasses where they want it to go.

          Something thats helping rear stability on the McLaren is there exhaust. There exhaust exits are blowing the gasses into the airstream there directing towards the diffuser which is effectively divering at least part of there exhaust gasses into the diffuser. This is why there was a bit of a question mark over there exhaust’s legality before testing.

          I think the exhaust layout is also whats got Red Bull on the back foot a bit as I don’t think there redesigned layout is working as expected so there not getting the rear downforce figures they expected.

  5. Dave_F1 said on 17th March 2012, 18:17

    I watched the sky coverage live & later on watching the BBC highlights & have to say im really impressed with the sky coverage & dissapointed with the bbc.

    the bbc buildup was lacking, no real discussion about mercedes & how lotus were considering a protect, no mention of why we have the stepped nose, things like the white card intro & bit with button taking up time that could have been used to discuss some of the changes for 2012. also though some of the editing was bad, didnt really mention the red flag alonso brought out & cut out a fair bit of the session.
    im also a big fan of ben edwards, have been since he was commentating on eurosport in the early 90s, however i don’t think the commentary due of edwards & coulthard works, just never clicked for me.

    on sky i thought the buildup was good, like some of the analysis features they have & they could prove very good for races. damon hill seemed a bit nervous in his role but i still think he worked very well.
    on commentary martin brundle & david croft clicked instantly for me, really enjoyed how they worked together they have some great chemestry & were a joy to listen to.

    also love all the extra red button stuff they made avaliable, been able to pick onboard cameras & see the timing data was fantastic & been able to view the various feeds alongside the tv oline using my laptop was brilliant.

    i went in expecting to prefer the bbc coverage & planning to watch the bbc coverage for there live races but have now switched, i’ll be watching sky for every race & am not planning to watch the bbc coverage again this year.

  6. Platine (@) said on 17th March 2012, 21:20

    Great that Red Bull don’t look like dominating, was getting rather monotonous.

    I think the myt of “phenomenal Vettel” is about to be exploded. He’s certainly a very good driver, but not as good as Alonso, and nowhere near Hamilton. Easy to llok good when your car is much quicker, no racing, turbulent air, etc. Webber just makes him look good.

    Cant wait to see how he does in the pack, and resurgent Hamilton in a strong car.

    Of course we havnt seen race pace, but looks exciting.

    Mercedes have a car too, should be fun with Rosberg in the mix, a totally underated driver.

    Really need to get Sky.

  7. Jack said on 18th March 2012, 4:41

    Well… I´m up and waiting for the lights to go out…. I sincerely hope Schumi makes his move on the start… It was so nice seeing him up there…. It felt like he was in a red car all over again!

    I hope McLaren is able to stay up there.

    And finally, I hope Alonso is able to squeeze everything out of his F2012 (it shouldn´t be a problem since it seems it doesn´t have much) so we can get a real look at to where it is right now.

    The season looks very promising and I can´t wait for it to begin!

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