F1: Rain dampens spirits as qualifying is delayed
Qualifying for the opening Grand Prix of the 2013 season was curtailed by the monsoon-like conditions that descended over Melbourne on Saturday evening, with only the first session of qualifying completed before proceedings were called to an abrupt end.
The final two sessions will take place on Sunday morning (00:00GMT) to decide the grid for Sunday afternoon’s curtain raiser. Nico Rosberg topped the largely inconsequential times in his Mercedes, followed by Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, and Romain Grosjean in the Lotus.
There was disappointment for Pastor Maldonado and newcomer Esteban Gutierrez, who were eliminated along with perennial backmarkers Marussia and Caterham – the reduced grid for 2013 will see at least two drivers from the ‘bigger’ named teams drop out in the first session. Despite luck escapes for Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa – who both ended up in the wall – there were no major shocks that often occur in adverse conditions.
In tricky conditions, several cars were involved in incidents; both Caterhams ended up losing their front wings, as did Massa in the Ferrari. Hamilton’s day was almost ruined when an off on his second flying lap left him briefly stranded, wheels spinning to no avail, but the Brit managed to get going again under his own power; the damage to his rear wing not proving sufficient to warrant repair.
Adverse weather conditions caused a similar postponement at Suzuka 2010, an event that saw Sebastian Vettel take pole position in the rescheduled Sunday morning qualifying. Judging by the German’s pace in practice, a repeat performance could be on the cards tomorrow.
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