We’re back, but so is Vettel

Originally posted at MichaelLamonato.com Sebastian Vettel has taken the first pole position of the year at Albert Park after rain washed out yesterday’s first session.Vettel made driving in the tricky damp conditions look effortless, despite the guessing game as to when the track would be ready for slick tyres.Hamilton and Rosberg looked threatening, and the Briton set the first quick time on intermediates.Vettel, predictably, had an answer to every challenge, and responded with increasingly unbelievable lap times.Button decided to sample the supersofts and it proved to be the tyre to be on, the 2012 Melbourne winner temporarily going faster.But once the rest of the field cottoned on, the McLaren was quickly outclassed.Hamilton jumped to the top of the times, with Webber next in line.But there was only going to be one man on pole this afternoon, and Vettel didn’t take long to post an unbeatable time some four-tenths ahead of the rest.Webber put a two-tenth buffer between himself and Hamilton’s Mercedes, who in turn was half a second clear of Massa, in fourth.Alonso was outpaced by Felipe – just – and will share his grid row with Nico Rosberg.Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean only ever looked thereabouts, the Lotus looking somewhat uneasy in the rain, consigning the cars to P7 and P8.Di Resta started his campaign to be noticed by a top Formula One team with a respectable ninth-fastest, while Button tumbled from the soaring highs of provisional pole to the very bottom of the Q3 pile and will start from P10.Q2Second qualifying kicked off at 11AM – some 18 hours late – on a circuit that spent the night soaking in rain.The water was deep-seated, and the track temperature was a mere 13 degrees Celsius. Intermediates were the order of the morning.With no extra rain falling on the track, lap times fell rapidly in the 15 allotted minutes, with Rosberg and Vettel trading fastest laps at the top of the order, and every driver rotating through the knockout zone as the track slowly dried.It took ten minutes for the first team to dry the supersoft slick tyre – typically, it was McLaren, spearheaded by we weather expert Jenson Button.But the switch was misguided, the track still too slippery for the dry tyre. Button wrestled with his car to keep it on the track, while Sergio Perez skated around corners.It was a baptism of fire for Perez, and he could manage only P15. Button was able to dive back into the pits and save himself with another set of intermediates.Bottas was the slowest man in Q2, in a car Maldonado called “undriveable” yesterday, four-tenths slower than Perez.Vergne and Ricciardo start on the same row, led by the Frenchman in P13, three-tenths in hand over his team-mate.Formula One returnee Adrian Sutil was stuck with P12, shattered that his di Resta in the other Force India progressed to Q3. He’ll have his work cut out for him if he wants to scythe through this afternoon’s field.Hulkenberg was the highest-placed qualifier outside the top ten, with the new Sauber driver wringing the most from his unexpectedly average car.The 2013 Formula One Australian Grand Prix starts in just five hours’ time, at 5PM AEDT.


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