Saturday, March 16, 2013

More of the Same? Vettel Takes Pole for F1 Opener in Australia

Photo Credit: Nissan/Infiniti

After nearly four months of off-season preparations, the 2013 edition of the Formula 1 racing tour kicks off its 19-race schedule Down Under at the Albert Park circuit in Australia. A track known to be a true test of drivers and car equipment, 22 well-prepared Formula 1 entrants will face additional complications of brand-new combinations. Entering time trials to set the 2013 Australian Grand Prix, the season-opening event would deliver another challenge. 

The first qualifying session of the 2013 Formula 1 season took roughly 17 hours to complete. Delayed around 30 minutes on Saturday due to wet track conditions, the initial Q1 session was a rude awaking for drivers. The wet Albert Park circuit proved unforgiving as cars were barely able to stay on course in the timed session. Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa and Charles Pic would damage their cars during in qualifying attempts on the wet track surface. As time ticked down on the Q1 session, newcomer Esteban Gutierrez wrecked his Sauber-Ferrari in a trying area of the track. Nico Rosberg for Mercedes AMG claimed the fastest time on track at 1 minute, 43.380 seconds.
After Q1 ended, race conditions on the Albert Park circuit worsened. The FIA, eventually, elected to move the remainder of qualifying to Sunday morning.

Photo credit: Sauber Motorsport AG

On Sunday, 16 Formula 1 drivers and cars concluded the Q2 and Q3 sessions of qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix. On a dryer 5.303-kilometer Albert Park circuit, qualifying times improved over the saturated track on Saturday. At the front of the first 2013 Formula 1 season starting grid is an unsurprising victor. Sebastian Vettel in the new RB9 Red-Bull-Renault grabbed pole in Q3 with a 1-minute, 27.407-second lap. The top spot is the 37th time in Vettel's career he will start a Formula 1 race at the prime place on the starting grid. Showing true strength of the 2013 RB9 race car, Mark Webber took the second spot on the 2013 Australian Grand Prix with a lap time roughly four-tenths of a second slower than Sebastian Vettel.

In his first qualifying outing with the Mercedes AMG race team, 2008 World Driving Champion Lewis Hamilton has placed his race car in the third starting spot. Hamilton overcome a rough Saturday Q1 session as well as a challenge from the Ferrari F138 race cars. With the Ferraris in fourth and fifth place on the 2013 Australian Grand Prix grid, it was Felipe Massa prevailing over teammate Fernando Alonso by less than a tenth of a second.

Charles Pic driving a Caterham-Reanult was the only driver not to qualify within the set 107 percent time rule. Missing the mark by only one-hundredth of a second on the outside of the criteria, it's likely the Formula 1 race stewards will allow the second Caterham to participate in the first grand prix of the season.

The 2013 Australian Grand Prix will start at 5 PM local Melbourne time. For the Eastern time zone, the start time translates to 2 AM Sunday morning.  

2013 Formula 1
Australian Grand Prix
Qualifying Results

Pos # Car # Drive Team Engine
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault
2 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault
3 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
4 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari
5 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari
6 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
7 7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus Renault
8 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault
9 14 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes-Benz
10 5 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
11 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber Ferrari
12 15 Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes-Benz
13 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
14 19 Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
15 6 Sergio Perez McLaren Mercedes-Benz
16 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
17 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams F1 Renault
18 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
19 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia Cosworth
20 23 Max Chilton Marussia Cosworth
21 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham Renault
22 20 Charles Pic Caterham Renault

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