Amongst all sorts of speculation about who’s faster and who’s a dog by one and all, the 2012 season finally got off to a start at Albert Park in Melbourne for the 2012 Australian GP. In the three practice sessions earlier, there had been signs of McLaren and Mercedes GP being at the head of the pack while Ferrari looked mediocre. Red Bull were close to the front but not at the front and most of us thought they were most likely sand-bagging.
By the first part of Qualifying (Q1), it was becoming evident that calling bets would not be easy this time. There were all sorts of surprises being thrown left and right. Kimi’s ouster in Q3 being the most attention grabbing of all. A poorly timed final stint left him out of action after the end of Q1 and the best he could manage was P18 (will move to 17th now after Sergio’s gearbox change 5-place grid penalty). Massa made it through to Q2 by the skin of his teeth and it was not what the scarlet fans had in mind for the weekend.
Q2 saw Alonso bin it in the gravel as he got his lefts on the grass at turn 1. That was the end of his day. He had the 6th fastest time at the moment but that soon got pushed down and he will start tomorrow’s race from P12. Massa on the other hand, rather embarrassingly, could not beat Alonso’s time even after Alonso went out with 5 minutes of Q2 time still remaining on the clock. The best he could achieve was P16 and thus putting both Ferraris out of Q3.
Things were looking great for McLaren and Mercedes on the other hand with Hamilton and Rosberg exchanging top times with Schumacher and Button following suit. Red Bull, in the meanwhile, had found no extra speed and were behind both McLaren and even Mercedes at times.
At the end of Q2, both Ferraris, both Saubers and one each of Force India (Di Resta), Williams (Senna) & STR (Vergne) were done for the day.
Rosberg set the first time but was soon bettered by Hamilton by more than a healthy margin. Vettel managed to slot in between Hamilton and the Mercedes of Schumacher but was still a massive 7 tenths away from Hamilton’s time. Button came around from 4th to go ahead of both Grosjean (who’d just bettered Schumacher’s time and got to P2) and Schumacher to take P2 just a tenth behind Hamilton.
Grosjean remained in P3 at the end of Q3 as Rosberg locked up badly at turn 7 and lost a whole chunk of time, putting him down in P7. Schumacher stayed P4 followed by Mark Webber in P5 and Vettel in P6.
It was a rather unexpected finish for Red Bull and especially Vettel after all the obvious expectations and “predictions”.
Hamilton’s 1’24.922 remained untouched as he claimed his 2nd Australian pole position to start the season with a bang. Button was close at P2 and their gap to Red Bull had almost everybody surprised.
Maldonado, Hülkenberg and Ricciardo did well to get into Q3 and rounded off the top 10.
A very unexpected grid in many ways and more than a few surprises. It’ll be great to see what the Iceman can do from P17 and what Alonso can manage from P12. Put everything else in the mix and you have a fantastic race in the making for Sunday!
Short cheeky summary:
1 – Alonso is faster than Massa even with a car sitting on a truck!
2 – Ross Brawn has his mojo back.
3 – Grosjean is a handful (as I’d expected).
4 – McLaren not only have the prettiest car, but the fastest too!
5 – Ferrari and their Lego car are in utter shambles.
6 – Mid-field is fiercely tight, I have no idea who’s clearly better among SFIF1, Williams, Sauber and STR.
7 – Lotus are unexpectedly fast.
8 – Red Bull are not so much the charging bull right now.
9 – Hulkenberg has lived up to his reputation so far.
10 – HRT need to be kicked in the rear for still being pathetic after 2 years in F1. No raceday for them tomorrow. More than a second outside of 107%.
Feel free to add yours. 🙂
2012 Australian GP Grid:
|5||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:27.117||1:26.297||1:25.651||17|
|6||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:26.773||1:25.982||1:25.668||18|
|9||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:27.464||1:26.314||1:26.451||18|
|10||16||Daniel Ricciardo||STR-Ferrari||1:27.024||1:26.319||No time||16|
|15||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:27.469||1:27.086||16|
|*DNQ||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1:33.495||6|
|Q1 107% Time||1:32.214|
*Both HRT cars were disqualified for the race after failing to meet the Q1 107% time.