Red Bull Racing
Qualifying: Sebastian Vettel pole position (1:23.529), Mark Webber 3rd (1:24.395)
The form: Vettel’s 16th pole and second in a row at Albert Park may have been the most impressive of his career, but it’s on Sundays where the 23-year-old world champion has struggled in Australia. Webber was downcast after being thrashed to the tune of 0.866secs by his teammate on Saturday, but is still in a strong position for a maiden top-three finish at home.
We say: Only reliability issues can prevent a double-podium finish for the reigning constructors’ champions this afternoon.
Qualifying: Lewis Hamilton 2nd (1:24.307), Jenson Button 4th (1:24.779)
The form: As we suggested, pre-Melbourne murmurs about MP4-26 proved ill-founded – or at least the team has responded superbly. Hamilton was thrilled with a car he says was “feeling fantastic” as he upset the Red Bull front row applecart and says he will give Vettel “the race of his life”; Button was bothered by Rosberg and the spinning Massa in Q3.
We say: if Lewis steers clear of first-corner carnage we could be in for a rare treat: Hamilton on the podium, Button just outside.
Qualifying: Fernando Alonso 5th (1:24.974), Felipe Massa 8th (1:25.599)
The form: Not the grid positions President Luca di Montezemelo had in mind for a year in which, he says, only the title will do, but Alonso has said a “new Formula 1” starts here and he probably meant on Sunday rather than in qualifying. Massa’s out-lap indiscretion in Q3 is not the start he needed, either, in a make-or-break year with the sport’s most celebrated team.
We say: Fernando could sneak a podium, Felipe perhaps tempted into over-driving in the early stages with the risks that entails.
Qualifying: Nico Rosberg 7th (1:25.421), Michael Schumacher 11th (1:25.971)
The form: Rosberg and Schumacher expected more on Saturday, especially after showing such promising pace in the final pre-season test in Barcelona. The team had several KERS-related issues on Saturday and Rosberg admitted to a mistake on his best lap in Q3. However, four-time Albert Park winner Schumacher has the freedom to choose his tyre strategy for the race, which could prove decisive.
We say: A double-points finish is the bare minimum, but Rosberg will need attrition from his rivals to sneak onto the podium.
Qualifying: Vitaly Petrov 6th (1:25.247), Nick Heidfeld 18th (1:27.239)
The form: An upside-down weekend so far with ‘Quick Nick’ unable to show that quality in a Q1 session where traffic got the better of him and a KERS problem cost him time as well. Vitaly meanwhile was one of the surprise packages, producing his best F1 grid position to date and confidently forecasting a good points-scoring finish.
We say: Petrov will struggle to maintain position while the canny Heidfeld makes up for Saturday’s disappointment.
Qualifying: Pastor Maldonado (15th, 1:26.768), Rubens Barrichello (17th, no time)
The form: A disappointing Saturday for Williams after Barrichello showed top-10 pace on Friday. The Brazilian veteran endured a gearbox problem in final practice and then had a careless spin into the Turn 3 gravel in the second part of qualifying, while Maldonado’s first F1 qualifying session finished with a low-key 15th place.
We say: Barrichello expects to get plenty of chances to use the new adjustable rear and Melbourne’s trademark attrition could see him sneak a points finish. Finishing would mark a successful weekend for rookie Maldonado.
Qualifying: Paul di Resta (14th, 1:26.739), Adrian Sutil (16th, 1:31.407)
The form: Sutil provided the most spectacular save of qualifying when he rotated 360 degrees at the top of the start-finish straight and managed to keep his car out of the wall; Di Resta was nervous before his maiden F1 qualifying session but kept his cool and produced a solid 14th-place result. Toro Rosso and Sauber look to have overtaken Force India in the midfield, however.
We say: Points look to be a bridge too far given their starting positions and lack of outright speed this weekend.
Qualifying: Kamui Kobayashi (9th, 1:25.626), Sergio Perez (13th, 1:26.108)
The form: Kobayashi has been in the top 10 for most of the weekend and has shown his customary flair; he’ll be looking for a better Australian race than last year, where he crashed spectacularly on lap one. Rookie Perez has kept his nose clean and showed impressive pace on his first visit to Albert Park.
We say: Kobayashi should be one to watch later in the race when the Pirelli tyres aren’t at their best with his spectacular style. Perez the likeliest rookie to score points.
Qualifying: Sébastien Buemi 10th (1:27.066), Jaime Alguersuari 12th (1:26.103)
The form: “We are just a sniff ahead of Force India, with whom I expect we will be fighting all year,” said a bullish TD Giorgio Ascanelli after a superb qualifying session for his two drivers. Buemi put Toro Rosso into Q3 for the first time since 2009 and believes the car – among the top three at some parts of the track in terms of maximum speed – is capable of hanging in there for points.
We say: Both drivers to be in the minor points placings, though Perez and Di Resta may have something to say about that.
Qualifying: Heikki Kovalainen (19th, 1:29.254), Jarno Trulli (20th, 1:29.342)
The form: Not much has changed for Lotus; they’re still comfortably the best of the three teams that made their debuts last year, but they’re still well behind the back-end of the midfield. Kovalainen out-qualified Trulli despite his rear wing sticking in the ‘open’ position on his best lap, while both drivers struggled to generate tyre temperature.
We say: A finish for one car and staying out the way while being lapped by the rampant Red Bulls is the best Lotus can realistically hope for.
Qualifying: Timo Glock 21st (1:29.858), Jérôme d’Ambrosio 22nd (1:30.822)
The form: Effectively last on the grid now that the HRT twosome have fallen foul of the 107% rule, Virgin were nervous if unsurprised about their qualifying performance. “We can see now where we are and what we need to do to progress,” says Glock, while rookie D’Ambrosio is relieved to be in his first race and staying positive despite the difficulties.
We say: A double DNF.