Hamilton leads McLaren 1 – 2 in Melbourne Qualifying

The Red Bull dominance of 2011 is definitely over with Mark Webber back in fifth and Sebastian Vettel in sixth, 7/10ths of a second behind pole sitter, Lewis Hamilton’s time of 1:24.922. Jenson Button came within striking distance of Lewis’ time but a small mistake robbed him of a chance of pole. Surprise of the day is Roman Grosjean putting his Lotus in third spot on the grid tomorrow!

It looks like Mercedes have made a definite step forward qualifying in fourth and seventh, Michael Schumacher winning the Mercedes inter-team battle on this occasion. I believe that there is more speed in the silver arrow, both drivers made mistakes in qualifying 3 costing them valuable tenths. Also a number of teams have protested the qualifying result because they feel Mercedes have an illegal rear wing, which was deemed legal yesterday by FIA technical director Charlie Whiting!

Pastor Maldonado qualified the Williams FW34, now with Renault power in 8th place on it’s first outing, Bruno Senna couldn’t manage to join the Venezuelan in the top 10 shootout, qualifying 14th two tenths behind his team mate’s Q2 time. I am incredibly happy to see Williams make a huge jump up the grid after last years massively disappointing season, Sir Frank’s outfit is the only team I’ve supported! Hopefully Williams will be up there battling with STR and Force India this season!

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Squadro Toro Roso’s Daniel Ricciardo round out the top 10 in ninth and tenth respectively. Ricciardo’s team mate, Jean-Eric Vergne qualified just behind the Australian in 11th place while Force India’s Paul di Resta will start from 15th place. Both Ferrari’s went out in Q2 to underline the problems facing Ferrari this season, Fernando Alonso dropped out of the top 10 after beaching his Ferrari in the gravel trap at turn one and will start from 12th while team mate Felipe Massa will start from 16th in what looks likely to be his last season at Ferrari. I believe that the Brazilian driver never fully recovered from his 2009 head injury!

Returning world champion Kimi Raikkonen made a disastrous return to F1 going out in Q1, the Finn went wide onto the dirt and lost a bucket load of time, crossing the line over five seconds slower than the fastest time. It looks like the Finnish driver is already unhappy at Lotus; he complained about the steering and refused to go out in FP2 in the rain. The Lotus clearly has the pace to play with the big boys, team mate Grosjean’s amazing third place starting position proves that!

Nothing has changed with the three new teams, Caterham, Marussia and HRT occupy the final six places of the grid, although both HRT’s failed to post a time within 107% of the fastest session time, so will more than likely be heading home early from the Australian GP for a second year in a row. I swear that HRT are less and less prepared each year they arrive at the first event!

The new season got off to great start, the blown diffuser ban has shaken the grid up nicely, watching the cars driving around the track is much more entertaining, the relative lack of grip means we see the rear of the cars sliding around much more and many more off track excursions. I am really looking forward to tomorrow’s race and the rest of the season, bring it on!!!

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