Formula One 2012 Preview : Australian Grand Prix Qualifying


Daniel Ricciardo testing at Jerez, Spain for Torro Rosso in February

It has been a mixed few years for Grand Prix racing. After a less than gripping 2011 season, fans are checking out the pack down under for this year’s opening race in Melbourne. Not too may rule changes – gone are blown diffusers – with DRS and KERS remaining on the cars. The pre-season testing and practice sessions gave no clue as to the form so all eyes on qualifying to get a clue … and very entertaining it was too. Some new-ish faces, including home boy Daniel Ricciardo driving the vastly improved Torro Rosso – a welcome relief from his debut last season with HRT, the team who failed to qualify for this weekend’s race under the 107% rule (banishing De La Rosa and Karthikyan before Q2 got underway). Engine donor Ferrari fared poorly with a car that looked a right handful for Alonso who went gardening in Q2 and left Massa to save the Scuderia, failing dismally it has to be said; he scraped through Q1 to go out in 16th in Q2.. Whether Felippe will ever re-capture his pre-Hungary magic is moot given the gelded form of the prancing horse this year.

McLaren look to be the front runners – qualifying on the front row with Hamilton taking pole – and with a decisive margin over Red Bull. So far they are most likely to be challenged closely by Mercedes. Nico Rosberg drove a great last session but ended up being pipped by the master, as Schumacher seems to have got the measure of the new Brawn chassis and popped in to take 4th on the grid. 3rd place went to a hugely impressive drive from young Romain Grosjean, returning to F1 in triumph from his GP2 championship last year. The Frenchman thoroughly deserves his seat with the Renault team – now sporting the heritage title of Lotus-Renault –  making a mockery of the return of team mate and perennial Laughing Boy, Kimi Raikkonen, who managed a piss-poor 18th. Mark Webber looked less sure of himself or the new Red Bull, despite being on home turf. It has always been here, and at the British GP, where Mark tends to eclipse his charging team mate, Vettel, of whom several pundits are mumbling that a 3rd sequential championship is a strong possibility. Certainly the boy wonder drove well but his experience is closely married to the form of Adrian Newey’s beast from Milton Keynes. His chances depend to a large extent on the car and it remains to be seen if he can drive beyond its capabilities, despite a well-deserved clutch of gongs.

There was enough uncertainty amidst today’s performances to suggest the season will be relatively open. McLaren have reclaimed top-dog-spot from Red Bull but it would be a fool who suggests this season will follow the qualifying positions at Albert Park. The retention of DRS should ensure overtaking continues to grow back in to a sport which needs to make sure that ‘racing’ is more than a simple moniker and there is enough young blood challenging the old(-ish) guard to keep all the drivers on their toes. That said, Ferrari are having a terrible time and for the sake of the sport, one can only hope that Maranello manage to hire a design engineer who can lift the car up to the level of its former and somewhat distant glories.

So cast an eye over the grid at Melbourne but don’t use it as an indicator for the season. There is enough variety in cars, tyres, tracks, drivers and egos to give us die-hards something to look forwards to in 2012.

1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:26.800
2 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:26.832
3 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:26.498
4 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:26.586
5 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:27.117
6 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:26.773
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:26.763
8 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:26.803
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:27.464
10 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:27.024
11 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:26.493
12 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:26.688
13 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:26.182
14 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:27.004
15 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:27.469
16 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:27.633
17 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:26.596
18 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:27.758
19 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:28.679
20 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1:29.018
21 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1:30.923
22 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1:31.670
DNQ Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1:33.495
DNQ Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1:33.643


HideyukiMarch 24th, 2012 at 11:34 am

D and other stupid peploe like him.Can you peploe please understand that being an trendy eco-asshole is completely different than being an ecologically minded person. In formula one it is not the 24 650kg 150 liter fuel-tank cars that make up the CO2 footprint. It’s the thousands of tonnes of boats, airplanes, trucks and other thousands of cars burning fuel just to reach to the facility. People who are advocating for ecologically friendly measures from Formula One should point to those things and not default like zombies to gas-guzzling cars like any asshole in L.A. with a Prius.Honestly. There’s a huge difference between just going with the green-trend ( buying yourself a Prius that makes you smug or wearing a Dolce and Gucci fur coat made out of human hair ) and actually making a difference which is;- voting for politicians who have balanced opinions about implementing new features to facilitate hassle-free conservation (like they recycle in Germany as an example)- being conservative (much in the way Seasick Steve was with his car) about one’s needs and all the other ecologically-friendly measures one can take without much inconvenience.That’s the key that if everyone followed there would be much less man-made pollution. As to machine pollution that can only be reduced with new better-than-otto-engine, better-than-coal-power-plant technologies.So bitching about the fuel consumption in formula one cars (which actually isn’t bad at all, they just use normal gasoline at about 4mpg which is just like any hypercar lamborghini, ferrari, zonda, koenigsegg, bugatti only offering much much more speed) while it may be trendy and appealing to hippies (and neo-hippies which apparently surface more and more these days) is actually stupid and not helpful.Putting 1.4 litre engines in F1 cars is like an asshole celebrity that buys a Prius but doesn’t even drive it. It changes nothing in the big scheme.

[…] Gerini Andre Guelfi Bobby Grim Jo Gartner The Formula 1 teams arrived in Melbourne's Albert Park to be greeted by grey skies, intermittent rai…of the new season is just a few hours away and everyone from world champions Red Bull to lowly HRT […]

[…] de Graffenried JeanMarc Gounon Divina Galica Paul England Caption Competition 11: Schumacher and Vettel is an original article from F1 Fanatic. If this articl…ic" href="">F1 Fanatic it is an infringement of copyright.Sebastian Vettel […]

MariaDecember 4th, 2012 at 1:25 am

Need to get my 2013 grand prix melbourne tickets sorted