Vettel and Webber lock out front row in disrupted qualifying session

2013 Australian Grand Prix qualifyingPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Melbourne, 2013A delay due to rain meant qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix took almost 19 hours to complete.

But despite the unprecedented disruption to the session it was business as usual for the world champions who locked out the front row of the grid.

Sebastian Vettel took his 37th career pole position as Mark Webber missed out on a clear chance to take pole position for his home race.


The rain that arrived during the final practice session persisted until the start of qualifying, leaving the track fully doused.

The start of Q1 was postponed for half an hour. When it finally began, Mercedes were first to get their cars to the pit lane exit and Lewis Hamilton led the drivers onto the track.

But as he came around at the end of his first lap the car snapped away from him at turn two and clipped the barrier. Hamilton managed to reverse his car back onto the track but the team were concerned about his rear wing damage. After dismissing a call to come in for a replacement, Hamilton secured a place in Q2.

That was just the first of many incidents. Felipe Massa suffered a heavy impact at turn 12, destroying his front wing. Yet surprisingly he was able to continue and, like Hamilton, got through into Q2.

The Caterham pair weren’t so fortunate – neither made it through after separate crashes during the session. Charles Pic’s came in the dying moment of Q1, shortly before Esteban Gutierrez ploughed into the turn 12 barrier much as Massa had.

All three were eliminated along with Pastor Maldonado and the Marussia pair, the latter outqualifying the Caterhams.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

17 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’47.614
18 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1’47.776
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1’48.147
20 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1’48.909
21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1’49.519
22 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1’50.626


With the track strewn with debris a further delay was necessary for the marshals to get it into a fit state for qualifying to resume. But by the time they had the rain had returned and now it had settled in.

The start of Q2 was repeatedly delayed but with light fading and sunset approaching the stewards decided there was no choice but to postpone the remaining two sessions until Sunday.

Just over 16 hours later the 17 remaining cars reassembled for Q2. By now the conditions had appreciably improved but the track remained damp.

With the radars showing yet more rain on its way the drivers scrambled onto the track to set times on intermediate tyres. But the rain never arrived and the question instead became whether the track would dry sufficiently for slicks.

McLaren were among those who thought it would, switching both drivers to super-softs mid-session. But Jenson Button quickly decided they wouldn’t work and switched back to intermediates. A late lap was good enough for fourth and a place in the final ten.

Team mate Sergio Perez had a further problem, suspecting a puncture on his first set of super-softs. He came in for a replacement set but could only manage 15th on his McLaren debut.

The lengthy delay didn’t prevent Rosberg from repeating his pace from Q1 and topping the times.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1’38.067
12 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’38.134
13 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’38.778
14 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’39.042
15 Sergio Perez McLaren 1’39.900
16 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1’40.290


Tactics for Q3 were split between those who went out on intermediates then switched to super-softs, and those who stayed in the garage and just did a run on the softer slicks. The Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari drivers were in the former camp, while Button was among those who only ran on slicks.

Vettel set the quickest time on intermediates despite sliding wide at the exit of turn 15. He was followed by the two Mercedes, Hamilton fractionally faster than Rosberg.

Button’s switch to slicks proved to be the right move and he duly took over the fastest time. But the fact he did so by just a tenth of a second indicated the other drivers would be able to find more.

Sure enough Hamilton moved the benchmark much further, producing a 1’29.184. But there was still time for more improvements and the times continued to tumble.

As the track dried the drivers found huge chunks of time. Vettel crossed the line with a 1’27.407 and a few corners behind him Mark Webber was going even quicker. But he had an even more costly moment in the penultimate corner, and dropped four tenths of a second to his team mate at the finishing line,

Hamilton improved again but not enough to peg back the Red Bulls, leaving him third. His team mate couldn’t recapture his earlier pace on a drier track and ended up sixth, the Ferraris separating him from the other Mercedes. Rosberg shares row three with Alonso, who Massa pipped to fourth by three thousandths of a second.

Top ten in Q3

1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’27.407
2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’27.827
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’28.087
4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’28.490
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’28.493
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’28.523
7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’28.738
8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’29.013
9 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’29.305
10 Jenson Button McLaren 1’30.357

2013 Australian Grand Prix

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Image ?? Red Bull/Getty

59 comments on “Vettel and Webber lock out front row in disrupted qualifying session”

  1. Ferrari looks good, Mercedes looks good but Red Bull all mighty! I really hope this trend wouldn’t continue in the race.

    1. God, not another 2011!!

      1. Nick.UK (@)
        17th March 2013, 1:41


        My excitement for the season just fell through the floor seeing that qualifying session. I can’t stand a flipping drinks company being on top! I just wish they’d go away and never come back…

        1. Double champions three years running, and you’d be mad to bet against them hitting the mark again this year. So long as their unstoppable rampage continues, they won’t be going anywhere.

          They spend huge money in sports sponsorship. To be slapped all over the cars dominating the pinnacle of open wheel racing must be incredible for them.

          Personally, I’ll be clearing on everyone that isn’t in a RedBull this year. I’m over it. :P

        2. What gets on my nerves isn’t the fact they are winning lately but how they got deals from Bernie for privileges like Ferrari etc. We tolerated this stuff a little because even though not fair at least those teams truly are part of the history of the sport and helped build it. But why the hell is Red Bull getting such privileges simply because they are currently on top?

    2. Can someone please explain how on Earth this is possible?
      Adding up the sector times for Vettel doesn’t produce the published time even allowing for max error margin of 0.1s per sector !!! So if a sector is 28.4s it really could be anywhere from 24.400 to 28.499. This still doesn’t explain the 0.5s difference in Vettel 1.27.407 or 87.407s to his total sectors 86.9 +/-0.3 !!!

      Vettel 28.4 + 23.3 + 35.2 = 86.9 +/-0.3 = 87.407
      Webber 28.6 + 23.3 + 35.8 = 87.7 +/-0.3 = 87.827
      Hamilton 28.6 + 23.3 + 36.0 = 87.9 +/-0.3 = 88.087

      Vettle for the past few years seems to post his times (on cue) out of no where. Are the other teams happy to play along ???

      I know it is just a show but still would like to think that the teams themselves are actually competing not just acting.

      If no proper explination is offered this s concrete proof that the timings are rigged !!!

      1. Because they did not necessarily set all their fastest sector times on the same lap. In Vettel’s case I think he did his fastest first sector time on his way back to the pits.

        Full list of sector times here:

        2013 Australian Grand Prix pre-race analysis: Tyres will make race “massively challenging”

        1. Thanks Keith for the quick reply but I am referring to the same lap as seen on the live-timing on

          28.4 + 23.3 + 35.2 = 1.27.407

          Are you saying that the live-timing at the end of each session shows the quickest sectors for each driver? I though it shows the quickest lap time with IT’S 3 sectors.

          Please clarify it for us.

        2. Primalogy pay attention to what @keithcollantine has said. Vettel aborted his last flying lap when it was clear no one would beat him. But Keith, didn’t he set his best 2nd sector time on that lap also? Because his best 2nd sector time is a tad faster than Webber’s but when Webber completed sector 2 on his only lap he was about 0.15 quicker than Seb.

          1. Please tell me what the 3 sectors in live-timing in front of the fastest lap mean?

            Are these sector times are the fastest sectors for the ideal lap of that driver or are they the 3 sector times for that fastest (but not ideal) lap?

            I reckon it is the latter and therefore the eror margin suggest that BE controling the times. I mean just look at the 7s at the end of the times of the top three.

            We need clarification please.

          2. I stand corrected.

            The sector times are for the three best sector times a drive has achieved, not the three sector times for the fastest lap.

            Thank you Keith and Montreal.

          3. Primalogy your reckoning is wrong. Live timing shows fastest sectors separately from the official fastest lap by a driver after the session is over. The only time when it does show the actual sectors of that lap is when the lap is in progress or just finished(before the driver completes sector 1 on his next lap)

          4. no problem. And ignore the last message, we were posting at the same time

      2. DAFUQ ?!

      3. Why do people question the way Vettel wins or gets pole ect, so much. I highly doubt the timing would be ‘rigid’. Its like the ‘yellow flag’ incident in Brazil, people just want to discredit Vettel. Yes Adrian Newney designs great cars but still Vettel extracts the most out of it and he wins champions because of this, not because he ‘cheats’.

        Theres so many Vettel haters, I don’t think anyone would be complaining if Hamliton or Alonso had the same streak of success.

  2. Urgh. So much for it being close this year. However it must be said that Vettel’s tyres looked shot. Webber’s tyres weren’t showing anywhere near the same amount of degradation.

  3. looks like RB is the class of the field..yet again!! Seb had a lock up at the start and missed the second last apex but still got pole!

    Good job by Felipe…Alonso’s first lap was 6 secs off the pace..prolly had an off…and didnt keep the tyre temps up..he could have been quicker otherwise

    1. Massa out qualifies Alonso for the 3rd race in a row. What’s going on here?

    2. @jaymenon10 Vettel missing the 2nd last apex was a masterstroke that got him the pole. Webber made the apex and lost half a second because it was wet there. Anthony Davidson was the one who spotted Vettel correcting the line thru the corner on purpose

      1. That’s awesome, I was among those who thought he made a mistake. Now cue people complaining that RB advantage is so great the Vettel got pole even when missing the apex.

  4. I actually hope the race is dry at the start. Vettel’s options looked destroyed, and he’ll have to start the race on those if dry.

    Can they change the tyres if they did the quick lap in Q3 on them, because they are not in good conditions?

    1. No, they have got to start on the tyre that they did their fastest laps on. I just hope Massa and Hamilton don’t come together on the first corner.

    2. Warren Tendaupenyu
      17th March 2013, 1:18

      No. They have to start on the same set they used to set their fastest Q3 times. Unless if the race is declared wet at the start.

    3. Shouldn’t do. If it’s dry he’ll be starting the race on them. Should make the start interesting. Think Webber’ll lose out to Hamilton as the dirty side’ll be so green compared to the racing line. And if Vettel has a poor start from his tires could see Lewis pop by round the outside of him as well.

      1. The problem is that the distance to first corner is not long enough, if Lewis can manage a good start he will pass Webber who is as always very bad at the start but he will have to look into his mirrors and not forget the Ferrari’s with their lightening starts
        I can’t see Vettel loosing the first place before the first corner unless he will make a very very bad start

    4. @kingshark

      Can they change the tyres if they did the quick lap in Q3 on them, because they are not in good conditions?/blockquote>
      Yes and no. There are certain conditions under which a driver can change his tyres before the start of the race, mostly due to damage to the car. I seem to recall Robert Kubica doing it once in 2010. However, I seriously doubt the stewards will accept “our driver pushed too hard and now his tyres are terrible” as a reason for changing them. They wouldn’t let Red Bull switch tyres at Spa a few years ago when they were running camber settings outside the guidelines Pirelli gave him, which caused blistering on the inner edge of the tyre (it was basically a case of “you got yourself into this mess, so now you have to live with it”). So based on that, I would say that the stewards will only let a team change their tyres before the race if they can prove that the damage done to them was beyond their ability to control.

      1. Nick.UK (@)
        17th March 2013, 1:48

        Yeah I was going to highlight Spa 2011 too. They can change them, but if they did I think they would start from the pitlane. The reason Spa was an issue was due to the mega speed corners being more likely to cause a tyre failure. It’s nowhere near as much of a risk in Melbourne.

  5. Hamilton and Massa on row two should be interesting to see how they both perform. I hope Ferrari don’t mess around, that’d be horrible to Massa in the first race of the season. Wouldn’t mind Seb retiring for some unfortunate reason with Webber, Hamilton and Massa on the podium. I mean it’ll be no fun for Seb unless he gives everyone a head start right?

  6. Very glad Lewis out qualified Rosberg; might help get rid of that smug attitude look off his (Rosberg) face.

    1. What you on about, Rosberg has never changed his demeanor since he came into F1

    2. Rosberg is one of the most modest drivers we have

    3. Hamilton colored glasses, have we?

    4. Is Rosberg now the ‘new Button?’

  7. I don’t know if I should be massively impressed by the lap, or or concerned for the rest of the season (with respects to a walkover by Seb).

    The only silver lining for non-Seb fans, and for impartial viewers, is this was still a developing track, and lap time was ultimately compromised for everyone, P1 being slower than P15 time from two years ago, whereas testing this year ‘seemed’ to suggest to me that the cars were back to their 2011 outright speed. (Proper blown diffusers that year, when Seb out-qualified Lewis by a second-ish in the same GP)…

    Given that Seb and Lewis are generally my benchmarks of potential pace in qualifying though, it does indeed look ominous for a runaway year.

    Final word then: congrats to Seb: You continuously earn my respect despite my initial doubts, good luck to the Merc’ drivers, particularly Nico (my outside bet for the win), and commiserations to McLaren fans, but there may be some hope in Sergio’s position and tyre freedom I suppose…

  8. Sutil’s been summoned to appear before the stewards concerning an incident in Q2.

    1. @keithcollantine Any idea on what the incident was about? Holding someone up or pit lane speeding or something else?

      1. @dragoll He’s been reprimanded for driving too slowly in the pit lane entrance.

    2. @keithcollantine for stabbing someone?

      1. -_________-

      2. HelloTraverse
        17th March 2013, 2:57

        It wouldn’t be the first time…

      3. I don’t know what to think about this. I think it’s very, very odd that he’s back in F1 at all when you consider who was involved and how it panned out.

  9. Massa is back. Hell yeah!

    1. I fear that will be shortlived

      1. I guess its almost pre-destined to last only as long as Alonso’s needs are.

  10. Both Vettel and Webber made mistakes but were still miles ahead of the rest, scary!

  11. I’m happy for Lewis and Merc that they are looking like the best of the rest at the moment. Think they’ve got a really good starting point.

    In terms of race result. I can’t see anything other than Red Bull for the first 2 steps of the podium unless something silly happens.

  12. Vettel , Hamilton I am loving this. Almost the dream start I was thinking about, I had Kimi instead of Webber. Nevertheless. Old Dog Ross Brawn says he has a few tricks up his sleeve too :)

    Will this be a season of Brawn vs Newey ????????? Wow Hamilton vs Vettel…… Bring it on Baby !!!!!!

    So what is Ferrari Strategy now, If Massa is Consistently faster than THE SAMURAI then who is the Number 1 ?

    1. Massa #1 but Alonso #0 :)

      1. DAT ASS.

        1. You just won the Internets. congrats1


        Massa: If you still wanna be faster than me, you better get yourself one of these! :)

      3. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
        17th March 2013, 3:21

        and Jenson thought his tires were in bad shape!

      4. “Look, Fernando! Isn’t that a flux capacitor?”

        1. @jonsan hahahahaha, that made my way to early morning! :D

      5. I think they point to how Vettels tyres are pretty bad after 3 fast laps.

  13. Redbull lockout….exciting season ahead they said

    1. I think in part the big difference was also choosing exactly the right moment to be out there. It seemed Alons had already overcooked them for his second lap.

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