Three-time world champion Sebastian Vettel captured the pole for the 2013 Australian Grand Prix when qualifying resumed after a soggy first attempt to establish the starting grid on Saturday. Red Bull teammate Mark Webber will complete an all-Red Bull front row for today’s season-opening race in Melbourne.
After Saturday’s second and third qualifying session (Q2 and Q3) were pushed back to Sunday morning due to very wet conditions and fading daylight, the track was mostly damp as cars took to the track for Q2 on intermediate wet tires. Although McLaren’s Jenson Button pitted later in the session to switch to the optional supersoft tire in an effort to gain speed as the track dried, the move proved premature as track condition remained too slippery for slicks.
Button still managed to advance to Q3, as did Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean of Lotus, Force India’s Paul di Resta, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa of Scuderia Ferrari, Red Bull’s Vettel and Webber, and Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, the latter topping the timesheets in Q2 as he did in Q1. Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg qualified 11th, just missing advancement to Q3. However, he was withdrawn from the grid before the start of the race due to mechanical issues. Di Resta teammate Adrian Sutil also barely missed moving on to Q3 placing 12th while Button’s McLaren teammate Sergio Perez was off the pace, settling for the 15th spot,
Although the track was progressively drying during Q2, teams started the session on intermediate wet tires. But in the last several minutes of Q3, teams dove into the pits to take on the supersoft option tires, setting up a dramatic position-swapping final conclusion to qualifying. Button first took fast time but was soon supplanted by Vettel and the final top 10 grid positions were not settled until the checkered flag dropped on the session.
In taking the Australian GP pole, the 25-year-old Vettel has now claimed 37 pole positions in his relatively young but dominant career as he begins his 2013 quest for a fourth straight F1 drivers’ title.
Red Bull, seeking a fourth consecutive constructors’ championship, again looks to be a major force for the 2013 season while top tier teams Ferrari, Mercedes, Lotus, and McLaren will again be highly competitive.
Only 21 cars will start today’s race as Hulkenberg’s Sauber C32, was withdrawn from the race by the team because of a fuel system problem that posed a safety issue.
The final top 10 qualifying results for the 2013 Australian Grand Prix:
1, Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2. Mark Webber (Red Bull)
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
4. Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
5. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
6. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
7. Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
8. Romain Grosjean (Lotus)
9. Paul di Resta (Force India)
10. Jenson Button (McLaren)
For complete results of qualifying for the 2013 season-opening Australian Grand Prix, go to Formula1.com.