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EVENT COUNTDOWN

ALBERT PARK

12-15 MARCH 2015

Mercedes duo in the hunt

It may not sound like much for a driver who has a record 68 pole positions to his name, but fourth on the grid for Sunday’s Qantas Australian Formula One Grand Prix was a significant breakthrough for seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher.

While Schumacher couldn’t live with the pace of McLaren duo Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button in the final top 10 shootout for pole, his second-row starting position was his best effort in qualifying since his comeback to the sport in 2010.

V8 teams racing and testing

This weekend’s MSS Security V8 Supercars Challenge at the 2012 Formula 1 QANTAS Australian Grand Prix is giving teams a rare opportunity to further develop their racecars.

While the racing is as fierce as ever and there’s $500,000 in prize money on the line, teams aren’t competing for points in the 2012 V8 Supercars Championship Series. With testing limited to just four days a year, chances to try and assess development parts and different car set-ups are at a premium – but they have one this weekend.

Bulls’ charge halted

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.

It is much worse: Ferrari's Fiasco

Felipe Massa summed up Ferrari’s woes on Saturday after a dismal qualifying session for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.

“I am very disappointed,” he said. “This is not the start I expected this season or that I hoped for. It is much worse…”

Massa qualified 16th on the grid for the season-opening race, a full second slower than his team-mate, twice champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso, who spun off but took 12th on the grid.

McLaren Versus the Rest: How your team fared - Saturday

McLaren

Result:

FP3 – Hamilton P1, Button P4

Qualifying – Hamilton P1, Button P2

Report:

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.

Ricciardo’s red-letter day

Daniel Ricciardo’s high-wattage smile was shining even brighter than usual as dusk descended on the Albert Park paddock on Saturday evening, and for good reason.

On his first race weekend at home and in his first race for Scuderia Toro Rosso, the 22-year-old West Australian qualified inside the top 10 on his Melbourne debut – and his pre-race goal of a points finish now looks a distinct possibility.

Never give up' pays off for Romain

Most people thought returning world champion Kimi Raikkonen would be the main man for Lotus this season.

Not today, he wasn’t.

Another man coming back to F1, Romain Grosjean, upstaged his illustrious team-mate when he qualified third behind McLaren duo Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

Grosjean, 26, took part in seven Grands Prix in 2009 for the team then known as Renault but went back to the feeder GP2 category to complete his apprenticeship – and duly won the title.

McLaren Throw Down the Gauntlet

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button delivered convincing evidence of McLaren's resurgence on Saturday when they filled the front row of the grid for Sunday's season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Both men drove with a sense of confidence in their MP4-27 car and great purpose as they clocked the two fastest times on an afternoon of dramatic action at Albert Park.

McMahon blitzes Group A&C Touring Cars opener

Carey McMahon has crushed his opposition in the opening Group A&C Touring Car Revival race at the 2012 Formula 1 Qantas Australian Grand Prix.

While a number of his peers started spearing off and scraping each other from the get-go, the polesitter blazed a trail and completed the eight-lapper at Albert Park with a huge 6.026-second cushion over second-placed Luke Ellery to make it a Nissan Skyline 1-2.

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