• Australian Grand Prix - Qualifying

Vettel takes dominant pole in Melbourne

ESPN Staff
March 17, 2013
Sebastian Vettel took pole in changing conditions © Getty Images
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Sebastian Vettel took pole position at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, making the most of drying conditions on Sunday morning to beat the rest of the field, led by team-mate Mark Webber, by 0.4s.

Vettel's time underlined the superior pace of the Red Bull in dry conditions, while Webber was on a faster lap but lost time in the final sector sliding through the penultimate corner. Lewis Hamilton took third, 0.6s off the Red Bull, and will start ahead of the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso with team-mate Nico Rosberg sixth fastest. Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean were seventh and eighth in the Lotuses ahead of Paul di Resta's Force India in ninth and Jenson Button in the troublesome McLaren.

The Q2 and Q3 sessions were postponed until Sunday after heavy rain on Saturday, but it was still a wet start to Q2 and intermediates were required as the cars first hit the track. The question throughout the session was when to change from intermediates to slicks and McLaren's gamble to run Sergio Perez and Button on super-softs towards the end of Q2 did not pay off. Button had time to switch back to intermediates and set a time good enough to progress to the top-ten shootout, but Perez persevered with slicks on the damp track but couldn't get them working and had to settle for 15th.

But despite Button's impressive performance in the wet, McLaren's fundamental issues with the car became apparent once more as the track dried in Q3. He was unable to come close to the pace at the front of the field and finished the session last meaning he will start 10th. Ahead of him di Resta did a good job to make Q3 in the Force India while the impressive pace promised by the Lotus all winter failed to emerge.

Rosberg had been quick throughout the wet running on intermediate tyres, but when it came to an all-or-nothing lap on the super-softs he could not match his new Mercedes team-mate Hamilton. Alonso will also have to start behind his team-mate after Massa set a time right at the end of the session.

Alongside Perez, Nico Hulkenberg, Adrian Sutil, Jean-Eric Vergne, Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas dropped out in Q2 as the drying track saw times improve with every lap. On Saturday Pastor Maldonado, Esteban Gutierrez, Jules Bianchi, Max Chilton, Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic all dropped out in Q1 and will form the final six places on the grid.