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The shape of things to come

Okay, let’s take a deep breath… and have a think about where we are.

Yes, we’re at Albert Park and it’s race day for the 2103 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix – but there the familiarity ends.

F1 veterans will feel it’s just like old times, when qualifying was split into two sessions over Saturday and Sunday and we aggregated the lap times.

Whiting recommends a postponement

Formula 1 Race Director and Safety Delegate Charlie Whiting was the man who on Saturday advised stewards at the Rolex Australian Grand Prix to admit they were beaten by the rain and to reschedule the completion of qualifying for Sunday morning, six hours ahead of the race.

Whiting said he took the decision after consultation with his FIA colleagues and was at no time put under any pressure to do so from teams or drivers. He said it was a simple, pragmatic decision taken without consideration for any commercial considerations.

Pole position still up for grabs as weather plays havoc with the program

There used to be engines in Formula 1 called Coventry Climax, but for everyone at Albert Park it was anti-climax as Melbourne’s weather put paid to the eagerly anticipated opening qualifying session of the 2013 season.

While the first 20-minute segment of the one-hour qualifying period did take place, race officials eventually decided it was too wet and dark to risk any further running on a rain-soaked track and the second and third segments will now take place – weather permitting – at 11am on Sunday.

GP Breakfast

The stars of Formula One, past and present, walked the red carpet at the inaugural Australian Grand Prix Breakfast on Saturday 16 March at Crown Palladium.

Over 1,000 motorsport fans packed the ballroom for the event that featured special guest appearances from Formula One drivers including Kimi Räikkönen, Jenson Button, Sergio Perez and Australian motorsport legends Sir Jack Brabham and Alan Jones.

Third Practice: Lotus blossoms in the wet

Frenchman Romain Grosjean topped the times in Saturday’s rain-hit third and final free practice session ahead of Sunday’s Rolex Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park.

The Lotus driver, victim of many opening-lap collisions last year, demonstrated competitive speed in the opening 15 minutes of dry running before a downpour halted the action and left the teams with a 25-minute window to test their cars in the wet conditions.

Van Gisbergen the rain master

Commodore charger Shane Van Gisbergen has blitzed the field to win the third MSS Security-backed V8 Supercars Challenge race at the 2013 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.

On a wet track, the 23-year-old old delivered a master class, vaulting through from ninth on the grid to win the 12-lap race by a massive 12.6072 seconds from Craig Lowndes, with Jonathan Webb in third to make it a Commodore clean sweep of the top spots.

Van Gisbergen also set the fastest lap of the race with a 2:11.6281, nearly a second ahead of Webb’s best.

Coulthard times run to perfection

David Coulthard’s sense of impeccable timing has continued, claiming his third successive victory in the popular Ultimate Speed Comparison one-lap handicap event at the 2013 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.

Yet again, Coulthard’s RB7 F1 car blasted past Mick Doohan’s Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG and the Commodore V8 Supercar of Casey Stoner to deliver the goods in another stirring finish.

But Australia’s motorcycle GP champions really took it up to him, forcing the Scot to carve over two seconds off his best time in race two.

Albert Park master strikes back

Craig Baird has hit back with a vengeance in race two of the Porsche Carrera Cup program at the 2013 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.

After finishing – for him – a lowly third in race one, today was all about redemption, and the New Zealander’s intentions were clear from the outset when he nipped underneath Steve Richards at turn one seconds after the start.

From there, he wasn’t headed again, although he did have to contend with Nick Percat sitting on his bumper for a fair chunk of the eight-lap journey.

Will they be super on the soft option?

The good thing about history is that it teaches us what to expect.

Looking at it another way, the great Murray Walker used to say that he never made mistakes, only predictions that didn’t always come true.

So what should we expect and/or predict when it comes to qualifying for the 2013 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix?

History first: the men who have been on pole here for the last seven years are all back again. That’s Jenson Button (2006, 2009), Kimi Raikkonen (2007), Lewis Hamilton (2008, 2012) and Sebastian Vettel (2010, 2011).

“I always knew…”

If you were among the crowd at the Australian Grand Prix 11 years ago, the name Coulthard should be familiar to you.

Not just because ‘DC’, Scotland’s F1 star David Coulthard, led the Formula 1 race for 10 laps in his McLaren Mercedes: his (literally) distant cousin, New Zealander Fabian Coulthard, was also on track.

Not among the F1 elite, of course: the English-born New Zealand driver was making his Albert Park debut as a Formula Ford driver. The field, in which his combative driving stood out, included names like J. Whincup.


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