F1 Season 2012 opens in Australia

Lewis Hamilton just held off to Jenson Button to secure a McLaren one-two in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix. As the paddock waited for Red Bull to show its true hand, it turned out to be McLaren which had been hiding its true pace. Hamilton posted a sensational lap time of 1:24.922 on his first flying lap in Q3 to head the rest of the field by over 0.7s and his time remained unbeaten despite the best efforts of his team-mate.
Button ended up just 0.152s slower than Hamilton after a strong final lap, crossing the line just behind Romain Grosjean who had provisionally been second after an impressive showing in the Lotus. Grosjean himself had just pipped Michael Schumacher - securing his best qualifying result since returning to Formula One - as Mercedes showed its pace too.
Red Bull was surprisingly found wanting when qualifying got underway, and ended up with Mark Webber outqualifying Sebastian Vettel as the pair line up side-by-side on row three. Nico Rosberg was unable to match his team-mate's performance as he made mistakes on both of his laps in Q3 and will start seventh ahead of Pastor Maldonado, Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo.

Q2 was held up when Fernando Alonso put two wheels on the grass and spun in to the gravel at turn one. The Ferrari was unable to get out of the gravel under its own power and had to be removed by a crane, causing a red flag. Alonso slowly slipped down out of the top ten, while team-mate Felipe Massa was never in the hunt and dropped out in 16th place ahead of Sergio Perez.

Ricciardo won the Toro Rosso battle as he just edged through ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne. Alonso ended up 12th ahead of Kamui Kobayashi, Bruno Senna and a slightly disappointing Paul di Resta.

Kimi Raikkonen was the big name to drop out in the first part of qualifying when he ran wide at turn 12 on his final lap. He backed off to go for another lap but compounded the error by waiting too long and crossed the line after the chequered flag dropped. That meant Massa scraped through in 17th, while Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov were unable to move Caterham out of Q1.

Below them were both Marussia cars of Timo Glock and Charles Pic who did well to get within the 107% time. HRT missed out on the 107% time as Narain Karthikeyan and Pedro de la Rosa struggled to find clear air and both find themselves under investigation for impeding other drivers.

Credits: ESPN F1


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