With traction control abolished this season, drivers will be thankful to start Qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix from the 5.3km Albert Park circuit in Melbourne, Victoria in dry conditions. Track temperatures are around forty degrees and air temperature twenty-three degrees at the start of the session.
The format for qualifying has changed over last seasons with cars starting the race tomorrow with the fuel they have onboard no fuel credit. Some teams will opt to carry fuel whilst some will opt to take a light car into the race in order to achieve a higher grid position.
After an impressive showing during the final practice ahead of today s qualifying session, the BMW Sauber team are one to watch.
Bourdais is the first car to leave the pits in the Toro Rosso with Glock, Davidson, Sutil and Fisichella joining him shortly after. Bourdais set the first time of 1:30.250 during the twenty minute long session. Glock runs across the grass in his Toyota at Turn One, and Sutil also runs wide during their first runs. Bourdais completes a second lap and recorded a time of 1:27.446, with Vettel behind him on a 1:27.945.
With twelve minutes remaining, fourteen drivers have yet to set a time, but Alonso, Piquet, Coulthard, Webber and Trulli have taken to the track. With ten minutes remaining, Raikkonen, Massa, Heidfeld and Kubica still have not taken to the track.
Trulli goes fastest on a 1:27.077, with Rosberg beating this quickly with a 1:26.886, with Alonso going second fastest on a 1:26.907. Kovalainen does a 1:25.664 and Hamilton goes second on a 1:26.572, after a mistake which saw him slide sideways through the final turn. Vettel goes third on a 1:26.702, with Kubica knocking Hamilton down a place with a 1:26.103. Elsewhere Heidfeld runs wide and Kubica is blocked by Raikkonen on a fast lap.
Heidfeld goes second on a 1:25.960, with Massa going third on a 1:25.994. With three minutes remaining, Raikkonen goes fifth with a 1:26.140. On his way back to the pits, Raikkonen sets a personal best in Sectors 1 and 2, but coasts back to pits with a problem.
Coulthard goes sixth as Sutil spins in the final sector. Button improves to eleventh. Raikkonen is pushed back into his garage by his mechanics.
Drivers knocked out:
Race control announce that Kimi Raikkonen will not take part in any further part of qualifying, as his car was effectively recovered from the racetrack rather than the pit lane. As it stands, the Finn will start from sixteenth on the grid. His car suffered a fuel pressurisation problem.
Vettel is the first to record a time on a 1:26.291, Coulthard beats this with a 1:26.181. Webber leaves the track and the session is red flagged. Webber looks to have suffered a problem with his right front brake before the accident, with a large puff of smoke coming from the wheel. 8:37 remain of the fifteen minute session.
Massa is first to take to the track as the session resumes. The Brazilian sets a time of 1:25.691, with Barrichello following him across the line in his Honda on a 1:26.301. Kubica goes fastest on a 1:25.362, with Kovalainen second on a 1:25.452. Hamilton throws caution to the wind and sets a 1:25.187 to take the fastest time with 2:42 remaining.
With a single minute remaining Alonso. Webber (retired), Trulli, Glock, Nakajima and Raikkonen (retired) are all in the drop zone. Barrichello improves from tenth with a 1:26.173 to take him into seventh. Kubica improves in second. Vettel goes sixth in the Toro Rosso on a 1:25.842. Coulthard improves to eighth. Alonso finishes up twelfth.
Drivers knocked out:
Webber (Brake Failure)
Vettel is first to take to the track, drivers no longer line up in the pit lane as there is no advantage of getting out on-track early. He pits rather than completing a flying lap, possibly to scrub tyres for the race. Rosberg sets the first time on a 1:29.144. Heidfeld sets the first competitive time on a 1:27.821 with half the session remaining.
Trulli sets a 1:28.686, with Hamilton going fastest on a 1:27.092, Massa second on a 1:27.178 and Kovalainen on a 1:27.584. Vettel is opting to not record a time. Heidfeld heads out for a final lap with just 1:51 remaining.
Kubica goes fastest on a 1:26.869 despite running wide, with Kovalainen second on a 1:27.089 only for Hamilton to go quickest again on a 1:26.714. Massa finishes up fourth after abandoning his lap. Heidfeld, Trulli, Rosberg, Coulthard, Glock and Vettel complete the top ten. Had Kubica not run wide, the pole may have been different.