Vettel claims pole for Australian Grand Prix
17 March 2013 – Sebastian Vettel will start Sunday's Australian Grand Prix from pole position, having stamped his authority over the rest of the field in a delayed and damp qualifying session at Albert Park. The Red Bull driver posted a time of 1:27.407 on a late slick tyre run to lead team-mate Mark Webber and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.
Even though the Q2 and Q3 sessions took place in much improved conditions to those experienced in Saturday afternoon's opening phase, the field still faced a wet track surface as the pit lane opened at 11am local time (GMT +11). Intermediate tyres eventually made way for Super Softs, but a few drivers were caught out when the crossover approached.
McLaren's Sergio Pérez was the first man to trial the slick tyres, even pitting for a fresh set after an issue on his out-lap, but the Mexican could not progress to Q3. He was joined on the sidelines after Q2 by Williams driver Valtteri Bottas, Toro Rosso duo Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Éric Vergne plus German's Adrian Sutil and Nico Hülkenberg.
In the final phase, the damp conditions ultimately yielded a sufficient dry line and the Super Soft tyres were used by all ten drivers. Jenson Button made the first move but went out too early, with his tyres quickly losing life and leaving him back in tenth place. On the other end of the spectrum, Vettel produced a stunning personal best time of 1:27.407 to comfortably lead his team-mate, with Hamilton managing to get the upper hand on fellow Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg in the dying moments of the action.
Ferrari duo Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso were separated by just three thousandths of a second in fourth and fifth, with the aforementioned Rosberg slipping back to sixth after his impressive early pace in the rain. Lotus drivers Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean were next up, with di Resta and Button completing the top ten. At the back of the grid, Saturday's action saw Marussia's Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton out-qualify Caterham rivals Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic.
After the recent flurry of showers, this afternoon's race is expected to take place in dry conditions, with current forecasts predicting a clear spell for the remainder of the day.
Sunday's 58-lap Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne gets underway at 5pm local time (GMT +11) and can be tracked via the GPUpdate.net Live Report feature