The first FIA Formula One race of the 2013 season in Australia will see Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel pick up where he left off at the end of last year, after he secured his 37th pole position as qualifying came to a close a short while ago, having been postponed to race day due to poor weather conditions.
"We can’t be too euphoric right now – in a few hours the race is coming up, so it’s head down again to get on with that," said Vettel.
The triple World Champion will be accompanied by his Australian team mate, Mark Webber, who crossed the line at the end of Q3 to make it an all Red Bull front row. Webber will be racing on home turf as he takes to the track later today, in the hope of picking up a podium finish or better still the victory, both of which he is yet to achieve at the Albert Park circuit in front of his home crowd.
On the second row of the grid as the race gets underway will be another familiar face, Lewis Hamilton, but he is embarking on new territory since leaving McLaren at the end of last season and will be representing Mercedes for the first time from an impressive third place.
Alongside Hamilton at the start of the race will be Ferrari’s Felipe Massa who will line up in fourth place ahead of his Spanish team mate, Fernando Alonso. After losing his front wing in the short qualifying session yesterday, Massa managed to the back on form when it mattered today to start from a solid position and pipping his double World Championship winning team mate in the process.
Hamilton’s German team mate, Nico Rosberg missed out on a spot on the second row of the grid and had to settle for sixth place in the end despite being the leading man several times in qualifying.
The Lotus duo will line up next as they take to the track for the Grand Prix, the first being Kimi Raikkonen who made steady progress during the qualifying session. The Finnish driver did have a slight mishap on his way out of the garage though and ran over the jack in his car. Raikkonen was seen being lifted back into the garage a while later, causing speculation that the incident could have possibly done some damage to the floor of his car but this is still to be confirmed.
Raikkonen’s team mate, Romain Grosjean seemed to quietly make his way through to Q3 and will start the Grand Prix alongside him in 8th place.
Force India’s Paul Di Resta was another of the midfield drivers who came into his own as the Q3 session progressed. The Scotsman pipped McLaren’s Jenson Button to the higher grid position and the 2009 World Champion will start from 10th place as a result.
Di Rests's former team mate, Nico Hulkenberg, failed to make it through to Q3 and the all-important top 10 shootout. The German driver is one of the two new faces of Sauber this season and he will start the race from 11th place.
Another former face of Force India, Adrian Sutil, is making his return to the team this season for the first time since 2011. The German driver managed to get ahead of the Toro Rosso duo and qualified in 12th position.
Jean-Eric Vergne is the first of the two Toro Rosso drivers in the latter part of the grid line up. The Frenchman put in an impressive performance during qualifying and was rewarded with 13th place and pipped his team mate, Daniel Ricciardo in the process. Ricciardo also has a special day ahead of him like Webber, as they will both be racing in front of their home crowd in Melbourne.
Button’s new team mate, Sergio Perez, who has moved across from Sauber, had a wobbly start to his first qualifying session with his new team. The Mexican driver appeared to struggle for grip on the track in the latter stages of Q2 and this resulted in him being knocked out at the end of that session. Perez will have a bit of work to do in the race to make his way through the field and catch team mate, Button.
Williams’ new recruit, Valtteri Bottas showed good form in qualifying and was the only one of the five rookies to make it through to Q2. The Finnish driver begins his maiden Grand Prix from 16th place on the grid.
Before rain stopped play on the proceedings yesterday, the 22 drivers in the field did have the opportunity to take to the track and complete the 20 minute section of the qualifying period in which six drivers failed to make the grade.
Williams’s driver, Pastor Maldonado will be leading man of this small group at the back of the pack as he will begin the race from 17th place. The Venezuelan will also be ahead of one of the five rookies in the sport this season, Sauber driver Esteban Gutierrez who will line up on the grid in 18th position.
Gutierrez will be accompanied by another new face in the field tomorrow, Jules Bianchi who is one of Marussia’s new recruits. Bianchi’s team mate, Max Chilton makes up the team and will start from 20th place. The Marussia team may be near to the back of the pack but they did pip one of their closest rivals in the short qualifying session that took place.
Caterham’s new addition to the team, Giedo van der Garde, beat his team mate to a higher grid slot after qualifying in 21st place, which leaves Charles Pic the final man in the line-up but his fate is still yet to be decided by the stewards. The Frenchman failed to qualify within the 107% requirement as a result of losing control of his car during Q1 which resulted in his front wing being swiftly removed.
Once again, Vettel is the man of the moment and despite having the winter break he does not appear to be rusty judging by his qualifying performance and respective result of pole position. The race is very much on though as the 22 drivers take to the track later today and start afresh with nothing to lose and everything to gain, in a bid to get a few points on the board and start off their season as the chequered flag is waved to mark the end of the first race.