Red Bull’s Mark Webber out-qualified world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel for the first time in 10 races on Saturday afternoon at Albert Park, but the Australian was left to rue an untimely malfunction of KERS on his RB8 as he finished a distant fifth, 0.729secs slower than pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton of McLaren.
Webber completed just one lap in the third and final part of qualifying while the majority of the other front-runners had two runs, and while his lap of 1:25.651 was his best of the weekend, the KERS failure meant he was left to wonder what might have been.
“I didn’t have KERS at the end of the session, which affects your rhythm during qualifying – it’s a shame as it’s been faultless all winter,” Webber said.
“We knew there were some quick guys out there - McLaren and Mercedes especially, and Romain (Grosjean) did well too.
“We can still get on the podium tomorrow, but we have some fast cars around us, no question about it.”
Teammate Vettel had a difficult day after a spin in the third and final practice session left him without any dry running on the softer compound Pirelli tyre ahead of qualifying.
The German qualified sixth after going into the session with muted expectations.
“I think what we saw today was not a surprise,” he said.
“We would have loved to have been closer to the front, but in Q3 I wasn’t happy with my lap. I made a mistake at the beginning and lost some time, so that was down to me. I could have been one or two places higher, but that’s how it goes.”