FP3 – Hamilton P1, Button P4
Qualifying – Hamilton P1, Button P2
Hamilton needed just one run in Q3 to set a pole time that was over three-tenths of a second quicker than anyone other than Button, setting up the first 1-2 on the grid for the world champion duo since they became teammates in 2010. On the evidence of Saturday, the one-lap pace McLaren lacked last year to take the fight up to Red Bull has been found – and found in spades.
Reaction: “It’s a great start to the season for me and the team, but we know that it is only Saturday and tomorrow is the day that counts. It was a great lap for me and I tried to improve it by braking later at Turn 1 the next time, but unfortunately it didn’t work. Luckily for me my first lap was good enough.” – Hamilton
FP3 – Grosjean P2, Raikkonen P12
Qualifying – Grosjean P3, Raikkonen P18
Rubens Barrichello may not be at Albert Park this year, but the veteran Brazilian driver must have known what was coming when he took to Twitter in the lead-up to qualifying and posted “the one who will surprise a few people this year is Grosjean”. On his maiden visit to Albert Park and in his first Grand Prix for two years, Grosjean backed up his second place in final practice with a stunning third on the grid. The news wasn’t so good for Raikkonen, who never made it out of Q1 after running wide at Turn 12 on his final flying lap, which he attempted on the slower, medium-compound Pirelli rubber.
Reaction: “It is not a dream – we did it. Tomorrow we can work to get the best in the race and the next races as well.” – Grosjean
FP3 – Webber P3, Vettel P7
Qualifying – Webber P5, Vettel P6
On the first truly dry day, Vettel was unable to stamp his champion’s authority on proceedings in the final practice hour, which saw him spinning off at Turn Six and left beached in the gravel. In qualifying, after cruising through Q1 in reasonable comfort, Webber ran across the grass in Q2 as the pair struggled to keep pace with McLaren. After this, they were out of the hunt, especially when Webber lost use of his KERS.
Reaction: “In the end, I was reasonably satisfied with my Q3 lap. It was not good enough for pole and we know we have things to work on.” – Webber. “I made a mistake and anyway I think McLaren were out of our reach today. They were very quick.” – Vettel
FP3 - Rosberg P5, Schumacher P6
Qualifying – Schumacher P4, Rosberg P7
Another good practice session laid decent foundations, as Rosberg topped the times twice, before Schumacher spun off with just a few minutes remaining at Turn Five. This suggested some discomfort with the car’s stability, but it was not apparent in the qualifying session when a well-timed fast lap in Q2 lifted them to the top with fast times before Hamilton re-set the clock with his pole lap. Fourth on the grid is Schumacher’s best placing since returning from retirement in 2010.
Reaction: “It's been pretty pleasant all weekend long. The car handled very well as predicted. I'm just grateful that we did a reasonable job. The guys did a great job in the factory." – Schumacher.
FP3 – Maldonado P8, Senna P15
Qualifying – Maldonado P8, Senna P14
The rebuilt Woking team maintained their solid progress in the final free practice session when, one Senna excursion apart, the drivers continued to suggest last season’s travails may be behind them. This was confirmed in the afternoon with a solid showing, notably from Maldonado whose top ten grid position will restore much confidence.
Reaction: “It was a great start to the season. We have shown that we are competitive and we now need to keep pushing. The car has been improving throughout the weekend and we need to keep going in that direction. It's now down to our pace and strategy for tomorrow's race." – Maldonado. "It's a bit of a lottery when you go into qualifying without having had a full day of running on Friday, but the car feels good.” – Senna
FP3 – Glock P21, Pic P22
Qualifying – Glock P21, Pic P22
The third and final practice session was proof for the team that they remain some way distant from the main pack though both drivers did a tidy job. By their own admission qualifying then came around far too quickly for their relatively untried cars.
Reaction: “We had a big programme for practice, and qualifying actually, and we made a lot of changes, all of which were the right ones and made us a little step better each time. I am very pleased with what we have achieved so far.” – Glock
“I would like to thank the whole team for their support, which has been incredible. We haven't had the best preparation and there is more to come that we don't even know about yet. I'm happy for today and for the team.” – Pic
FP3 – Ricciardo P10, Vergne P11
Qualifying – Ricciardo P10, Vergne P11
The two new boys at Red Bull’s sister squad have shadowed one another all weekend, but much to the delight of a crowd of over 81,000 at Albert Park on Saturday, it was the Australian who emerged on top in qualifying. Ricciardo’s blistering late lap in Q2 got him through to the top 10 shootout, but Vergne was right there, just a tenth of a second adrift. Round one to the Australian in what promises to be an intriguing season-long battle.
Reaction: “We’ve laid the groundwork for Sunday and Jean-Eric is not far behind me, which will keep me on my toes,” – Ricciardo
FP3 – De la Rosa P23, Karthikeyan P24
Qualifying – De la Rosa DNQ, Karthikeyan DNQ
It wasn’t a great surprise that both HRT entries didn’t qualify inside the 107 per cent cut off time of 1:26.182 set by Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi in Q1, and while the team lodged a request to compete in Sunday’s race, de la Rosa’s best time of 1:33.495 was still 1.2secs outside the cut-off required – and he was the quicker of the duo who managed less than 20 laps of running each on a desperate Saturday for the Spanish team.
Reaction: “We knew it would be tough coming into Australia, but today’s result is hugely disappointing for any driver, there's no doubt about that.” – Karthikeyan
FP3 – Alonso P16, Massa P18
Q – Alonso P12, Massa P16
An unqualified disaster for Maranello. Alonso got on the grass in Q1 under braking for the first corner and ended up stranded in the gravel on the left. Massa said he could never find a clear lap, but his catalogue of complaints – no grip on either Pirelli tyre, oversteer into the corners and understeer out, no balance on the car – says it all.
Reaction: “I understand that at the moment our fans are disappointed, but I would urge them to be cautious before making any definitive judgement, as if everything was already over.” – team principal Stefano Domenicali
FP3 – Di Resta P17, Hulkenberg P14
Q – Di Resta P15, Hulkenberg P9
Tyre issues’ – he got stuck in traffic and couldn’t get them up to working temperature soon enough – disrupted Di Resta’s session, but the Scot admitted he himself had never quite got it together. Meanwhile set-up changes after third free practice worked wonders for Hulkenberg and got the German through to the final shoot-out after early concerns about the car’s ability to take him there.
Reaction: “There are some quick cars behind, but I’m confident that we can have a strong race from there and remain in the hunt for points.” – Deputy team principal Robert Fernley
FP3 – Kobayashi P13, Perez P9
Q – Kobayashi P13, Perez P17
After yesterday’s spectacular slide on the main straight, Kobayashi caught the eye again when he topped the times in Q1, but lack of grip on new soft Pirellis in Q2 saw the Japanese slide back to 13th – the same place as he ended up in FP3. Perez too had a strong Q1 while adjusting to set-up changes but fell foul of a gearbox problem in Q2 and it will be hard for the team to repeat their stellar, if eventually illegal, race performance from last year.
Reaction: “The positive thing is that we confirmed our car is fast, which gives us hope for the race, although overtaking is not easy here.” Team principal Peter Sauber
FP3 – Kovalainen P20, Petrov P21
Q – Kovalainen P19, Petrov P20
A hydraulic leak hampered Petrov’s preparations through third free practice, while both drivers were working hard to get to grips with KERS for the first time in a race situation. Kovalainen may find it dispiriting to be in the same position he found himself in for much of 2011 but the Finn felt a slow-moving HRT cost him as much as six-tenths on his last quick lap and took consolation from the greatly reduced gap to the cars ahead of him.
Reaction: “I’m reasonably positive about today” – Kovalainen; “For me that was an OK qualifying, maybe not quite what we had hoped for but we know there’s more to come.” – Petrov.