Australian Grand Prix: Qualifying
HAMILTON EDGES RICCIARDO TO POLE IN WET CONDITIONS
Lewis Hamilton took pole position from Daniel Ricciardo in a nail-biting qualifying session at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Wet weather threw the pre-season form guide out the window, but Hamilton just managed to clinch pole from the resurgent Red Bull. But while Ricciardo shone in front of his home crowd, team-mate and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel will start from 13th after failing to make the grade in Q2. Ricciardo beat Nico Rosberg to the front row by 0.047s as the Red Bull driver gambled on intermediate tyres for his final run while the Mercedes duo played it safe on full wets.
Kevin Magnussen will start fourth in the McLaren, ahead of Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari, who looked strong in the earlier sessions of qualifying but faded in Q3. Jean-Eric Vergne underlined Renault's return to form with the sixth fastest time in the Toro Rosso, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India, Daniil Kvyat in the second Toro Rosso and the two Williams of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. Bottas will drop five places on the grid due to an unscheduled gearbox change between FP3 and qualifying, meaning he will start 15th.
Kimi Raikkonen caused havoc at the end of Q2 as he crashed his Ferrari on a drying track coming out of Turn 3. That meant several other drivers, including Vettel and Jenson Button missed the cut as they backed off while passing the scene of the accident. Button was just over a tenth off Kvyat's Q2 time inside the top ten and Vettel was three tenths shy, meaning he will start 12th on Sunday's grid. Adrian Sutil will line up 13th ahead of an impressive effort by Kamui Kobayshi in the Caterham in 14th. Sergio Perez starts 16th and was the only driver knocked out in Q2 not to benefit from Bottas' grid penalty.
Rain arrived midway through Q1 meaning the drivers had only a couple of shots at setting a time worthy of making Q2. Max Chilton's Marussia missed the cut by 0.019s and he was joined in the drop zone by team-mate Jules Bianchi. After a gearbox change following FP3, Esteban Gutierrez will start dead last due to a five-place grid penalty. That promoted Marcus Ericsson to 19th on the grid for his F1 debut in the Caterham, ahead of the two Lotuses. Pastor Maldonado failed to set a time, leaving his inclusion in the race at the discretion of the stewards under the 107% rule. However, he set a time in FP3 that would have been enough had he repeated it in qualifying and therefore he should make the grid on Sunday.