Rain rules in Australia, Q2 and Q3 postponed

Formula One News » Rain rules in Australia, Q2 and Q3 postponed

Heavy rain has forced the stewards of the Australian Grand Prix to postpone Q2 and Q3 until Sunday morning. Qualifying for the first round of the 2013 FIA Formula 1 World Championship at Melbourne’s Albert Park is now scheduled to continue at 11 am local time tomorrow, weather permitting.

Although Q1 was able to take place on Saturday, it was delayed by 30 minutes due to the precipitation. Once it did start, Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were first out on wet tyres, swiftly followed by the rest of the field.

In an incident packed session, Rosberg ended up quickest on a 1 minute 43.380 seconds – with drivers switching to intermediates as the session progressed.

Fernando Alonso was second for Ferrari ahead Lotus man Romain Grosjean, McLaren new boy Sergio Perez and local star Mark Webber in positions 3 through to 5.

A number of runners were caught out by the tricky conditions, with the likes of Felipe Massa, Esteban Gutierrez and Caterham’s Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde suffering offs and losing their front wings. The latter three were all eliminated in Q1, along with both Marussias and the Williams of Pastor Maldonado. Maldonado described his car as ‘undriveable’.

“Sometimes qualifying goes like it did today. We obviously didn’t finish where we wanted to but for much of the session we looked pretty good, especially halfway through the session when we were putting in pretty good times. We made the call to switch to inters with about five minutes left of the session and for the first lap it was very tricky – there was a lot of standing water and it was hard to keep the car on track, but it improved pretty quickly and I was starting to push before I touched the white line which caused me to spin and I made contact with the barrier which meant I had to pit. Until that point I was much faster but didn’t have the luck you sometimes need,” Pic lamented.

“Our pace was good in the conditions today, similar to a number of cars ahead, but it’s obviously important to finish our fastest laps – today we didn’t do that but that speed gives us reason to be positive.”

“Honestly I’m disappointed with where we ended up today as we could definitely have finished higher,” added van der Garde. “We made quite a few changes to the car overnight and it felt much better in FP3 so I was feeling good about qualifying.

“The delays at the start of quali obviously weren’t ideal but I was very calm and looking forward to getting out there. It was obviously the same conditions for everybody and it was very tricky out there – I hit a puddle on my first run and span off which meant I had to pit for a new nose, but the boys did a good job to get me out again quickly and we were looking good.

“With a few minutes left in Q1 we switched to inters and the car felt great. On my last run I was well up but I had to back off for double yellow flags and that was the end of my chance. It’s a shame as I know we’d have finished higher, but sometimes it’s like that. Now we have some more work to do to prepare for the race.

“Starting where we are we just have to make sure we can avoid any problems at the start and concentrate on getting to the end of what will be my first Grand Prix. If it’s raining again at least we know what the track’s going to be like so I’m looking forward to it.”

Max Chilton, who will start 20th, continued: “I’m pretty pleased with how today has gone when you look at the circumstances. I hadn’t really expected to be sitting in the garage for 30 minutes seeing a river forming on the track outside when I’d contemplated my first F1 qualifying experience. With that in mind, I’m really encouraged with how we fared.

“With the conditions starting to clear a little in the dying minutes of the Q1 session I knew everything hinged on that final lap. We were improving in each sector so I knew we would be okay, it’s just a little disappointing that my last lap was affected by the Yellow flag for the Caterham. Now my thoughts turn to tomorrow and I can’t wait, rain or shine.”

The bottom six places are the only part of the grid confirmed for Sunday’s race.

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