Qualifying delayed due to wind and rain
The weather continued to play its part today as just like in FP3 the rain didn't stop. Qualifying was initially delayed 10 minutes, but then another 20 minutes, only to get the action started 30 minutes behind schedule.
Lewis Hamilton was the first to take the track, waiting at the end of the pitlane just ahead of his teammate Nico Rosberg. After setting the first laptimes, everybody is out on track as more rain is expected soon.
In lap 2, Van Der Garde is the first man to go off, breaking his front wing. He is however able to continue and get back to the pitlane. Lewis Hamilton then goes a little bit too hard on the throttle on the exit of turn 1 and slides off, slightly damaging his rear wing. Although it looked he was beached in the slippery wet grass, he managed to get back on track in reverse and continue with qualifying, despite having a broken right rear wing endplate.
Halfway into the session, Felipe Massa is off as well, hitting the tyre barrier hard but head on, fortunate not to break any part of the front suspension. The nose was obviously gone, along with the front wing, but Massa was safely able to get back into the pits. Only seconds later Webber goes wide in the same high speed corners but manages to keep his Red Bull out of the barriers.
With 5 minutes left in the session, Vettel goes fastest, ahead of Vergne, Ricciardo, Rosberg, Raikkonen, Alonso, Hamilton, Grosjean, Gutierrez, Webber, Hulkenberg, Sutil, Di Resta, Massa, Button and Pérez.
One minute later, many drivers opt to change to intermediates, and Button is the first to use them properly, going fastest with 3 minutes left on the clock. Massa follows suit to go second fastest.
During that final minute, Grosjean took the fastest time, ahead of Alonso. Gutiérrez went off heavily but is ok, along with Pic who broke his front wing and returned to the pits himself. Rosberg still managed to improve his own time and ended Q1 on top.
Eliminated are Maldonado, Gutierrez, Bianchi, Chilton, van der Garde and Pic.
Just after the end of Q1, the rain intensified again, triggering another 10 minute delay before starting Q2.
At 6:24 local time, it was announced that Q2 would be delayed for another 20 minutes. Sunset at Melbourne today is 7:37PM.
At 6:46 local time, the FIA finally decided that Q2 and Q3 will take place on race day, at 11AM local time.