Saturday, 17 March 2012

Brilliant Hamilton leads McLaren one-two in Melbourne qualifying

Lewis Hamilton will start from pole position tomorrow in the first race of the season as he ended Red Bull's recent dominance on Saturdays.

Lewis Hamilton took a fantastic pole position in the first qualifying session of the season, leading a McLaren one-two at Melbourne. Hamilton's brilliant lap of 1.24.922 put him just over a tenth clear of his team mate Jenson Button, who will start 2nd. However the real star of the day was Romain Grosjean who starts third in the Lotus. A very dramatic and exhilarating session saw Kimi Raikkonen fall out in Q1, neither Ferrari get into Q3, and Red Bull demoted to the third row.

Schumacher was in fine form today
In Q1, for the majority of the session Ferrari looked in trouble, with Felipe Massa languishing in eighteenth for much of the session. In the end, both Ferraris had to use the soft tyres in Q1, such was their lack of pace. However, Alonso got through comfortably in sixth, while Massa just edged through. However, Kimi Raikkonen was caught out. The Lotus driver, who had looked in excellent form in pre-season testing, will start eighteenth after getting caught in traffic and making an error on his flying lap. Caterham were eliminated, as were both Marussia's, with Kovalainen and Glock getting ahead of their team mates. Neither HRT driver made it into the 107% time, so we wait to see whether they will be allowed or not. Karthikeyan also got into trouble for blocking Vettel and Alonso, while De la Rosa blocked Kovalainen.

A very frustrating day for Fernando Alonso
The second part of qualifying was just as dramatic. Fernando Alonso was clearly trying his best with the difficult Ferrari, and had just set the fifth fastest time, before the uncooperative F2012 spun around when he dipped a wheel on the grass and ended up in the gravel at Turn One. Alonso couldn't get out of the gravel and there was a short red flag period while his car was cleared. At the time, Alonso was still in the top ten, but his fall was complete at the end of the session, and the Spaniard will start twelfth tomorrow. Alonso has the excuse of an irresponsive car, but there was no such excuse for Massa, whose abysmal performance leaves him starting sixteenth tomorrow, and completing Ferrari's disastorous day. After testing, we knew they were in trouble, but not quite this much trouble. Sergio Perez didn't complete a time and starts seventeenth, while Kobayashi, Senna and Di Resta will start thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth. Jean-Eric Vergne starts his first F1 race an impressive eleventh tomorrow, just missing the cut for Q3. Mercedes laid down their marker in Q2 though, with Nico Rosberg fastest and Michael Schumacher 2nd fastest.

A brilliant performance by Hamilton saw him take pole
In Q3, the Mercedes men were the first to complete there runs, with Nico Rosberg the first. However his lap was very messy, and was easily beaten by Hamilton's time, a 1.24.922, which was much faster than anyone else managed on their first runs. Michael Schumacher was very fast on his first run though, and after round one it was Hamilton, Vettel, Schumacher, Button and Grosjean. Rosberg's second attempt was no better, locking up massively at Turn Three, and qualifying seventh, which while good, was not to the car's full potential. Mark Webber did just one run, but surprisingly it was enough to beat his team mate, and the Aussie starts his home race fifth. Michael Schumacher moved up to 2nd with an awesome lap, but was pegged back by the unbelievable Romain Grosjean. On his second lap, Button closed most of the gap to Hamilton, but not quite, and starts 2nd. Hamilton couldn't go quicker on his last lap, and aborted it, but still took a marvellous pole position - his second at Melbourne. Pastor Maldonado starts eighth after a sterling effort, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo.

A stunning qualifying session to get the season going, with lots of talking points. The season is going to be a very close, and very entertaining one if this session is anything to go by.

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