Hamilton heads close final practice session in Melbourne

2012 Australian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Lewis Hamilton headed the times in an exciting final practice session ahead of qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix.

Just over a second covered the top 13 drivers at the end of the final hour of running.

Mercedes looked quick from the moment they took to the track at the start of the final practice session – although their drivers had trouble keeping the car on the track to begin with.

Nico Rosberg ran wide at turn one and Michael Schumacher took to the gravel at turn three. But it didn’t keep them from leading the early running.

Red Bull appeared to be keeping some performance in reserve. But just as they were beginning to show some of the RB8’s real potential, Sebastian Vettel spun into the gravel, bringing his session to an end.

He wasn’t the only one of the top drivers in trouble. Schumacher spun into the gravel at turn nine with five minutes remaining.

Romain Grosjean had just gone quickest at the time. Once the yellow flags came back in, Hamilton pumped in a 1’25.681 to head the times by less than a tenth of a second.

Mark Webber made it three different teams in the top three, taking third ahead of Jenson Button and the two Mercedes.

The Ferrari drivers struggled. Felipe Massa had his second spin of the weekend and Fernando Alonso had the F2012 by the scruff of the neck trying to wring a lap time out of it.

Both Marussia drivers lapped within 7% of the quickest time, which bodes well for their chances in qualifying. But the HRTs were around a second and a half away from that target.

Pos.CarDriverCarBest lapGapLaps
14Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’25.68118
210Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’25.7580.07721
32Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’25.9000.21920
43Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’25.9060.22517
58Nico RosbergMercedes1’25.9290.24823
67Michael SchumacherMercedes1’26.0780.39714
71Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’26.2110.53012
818Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault1’26.4700.78917
915Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1’26.6320.95120
1016Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari1’26.7231.04217
1117Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari1’26.7331.05215
129Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault1’26.7371.05619
1314Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’26.7551.07421
1412Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’27.0291.34823
1519Bruno SennaWilliams-Renault1’27.1191.43820
165Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’27.3231.64219
1711Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’27.4281.74722
186Felipe MassaFerrari1’28.0232.34219
1920Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault1’28.3412.66019
2021Vitaly PetrovCaterham-Renault1’28.7023.02111
2124Timo GlockMarussia-Cosworth1’30.7285.04713
2225Charles PicMarussia-Cosworth1’31.2255.54414
2322Pedro de la RosaHRT-Cosworth1’33.1147.43312
2423Narain KarthikeyanHRT-Cosworth1’33.2617.58013

2012 Australian Grand Prix

    Browse all 2012 Australian Grand Prix articles

    Image © McLaren/Hoch Zwei

    Author information

    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

    Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

    33 comments on “Hamilton heads close final practice session in Melbourne”

    1. yes Hami, hope quail looks just like this! Vettel looks frustrated and Webber is happier with the car, let’s see whether it was really his skill or having the superior car that gave him both championships.

      1. @Adam
        You are in for a rude awakening!!
        Seems “wonder boy” IS human after all….. nice spin in to the gravel!! Seems now real skill comes into play when you don´t have the good ´ol EBD! He might get pole… but if he makes a mistake like that during the race (which is likely to happen) it´s game over!

        1. @jack22

          Seems now real skill comes into play when you don´t have the good ´ol EBD!

          Vettel made mistakes in practice last year – remember Turkey and Abu Dhabi?

          Lots of teams had exhaust-blown diffusers last year, not just Red Bull. Trying to connect the two in an effort to take a cheap shot at Vettel is not very clever.

          1. Trying to belittle the fact the car had 85% to do with last year´s WDC is also not clever… and I hope some will open their eyes in a while….
            It´s just amusing to me that now he has less EBD and he goes to the pit… just goes to show how dependant he is on EBD.

            1. Which explains why he beat Webber 15-2 in qualifying in 2009. Without EBD…

            2. @F1fanNL

              Which explains why he beat Webber 15-2 in qualifying in 2009. Without EBD…

              Which is why he just got OWNED by his underperforming team mate Webber! I rest my case…. The kid was all car last year and now it´s time for him to come down to earth!
              I don´t care if Ferrari didn´t make top 10….. I´m just uber happy right now!!
              Respect to Hamilton for beating his 2011 Sub champion team mate!! In the end… true talent always rises to the top!
              I hope Ferrari gets their act together quick!

            3. Stop embarrassing yourself. It’s pathetic. Vettel didn’t get owned and Webber hasn’t been underperforming…
              Vettel had little running with the latest package in Barcelona and didn’t have a solid practice session. That lead to Webber beating him today with 0.017 seconds. That’s not exactly getting owned…

              Why can’t you just be happy for the driver you support in stead of trying to talk down the drivers you don’t like at every turn. It’s extremely childish.

            4. @F1fanNL
              Hurts don´t it??? Oh and now Webber isn´t under performing?? you just said he beat him in 09 withought EBD, he beat Webber in ´10 AND ´11…. Most Vettel fans where saying Weber just didn´t have pace… well there you go… May it be a .017 difference betwen both cars.. Webber IS ahead of “wonder boy” in the grid! And everybody said Webber wasn´t quick… yeah right…. He can be when they let him!
              Oh and BTW you look bad making excuses about him not running the car in Barcelona…. He´s a double world “champion”…. People were saying he was the next Senna, bla, bla, bla, bla…..
              Oh and BTW it´s pathetic reading about RBR´s intentions to protest Mercedes´ DRS wing/FDFW…. I guess that is what happens when somebody somebody has a better toy than everyone else!
              RBR should just sit down and “take it like man”…. We sat through a boring season last year…. now it´s your turn to suffer!

              Hey, I´m just sorry they burst your bubble! And so what if I´m being childish!! I´m loving this day A LOT!!!

            5. Under performing means performing lower than ones capabilities. Webber has always been slower than Vettel so what we saw last year was normal. In fact, Webber performed better last year than he did in 2010. If he had done in 2010 what he did in 2011 he would have been WDC.

              As for Red Bull’s intentions to protest Mercedes’ DRS solution, every team protests every now and again. McLaren have been protesting against flexing wings for two years. Ferrari have been protesting about almost everything in Formula 1 for the last couple of years threatening to leave the sport on several occasions.
              When it comes down to it all teams behave like upset children complaining their ‘toys’ aren’t the best.

              “now it´s your turn to suffer!”

              Why, I’m a fan of F1 in general. If you’d invested some of your time spent ridiculously ranting about how sub par Vettel is you’d have noticed I take an interest in the sport in general. Something you clearly don’t. Would I have liked to see Vettel higher up? Yes. But with Hamilton on pole, Button close behind him on P2 and Schumacher on P4 I’m very satisfied with today’s result.

              Anyways, like I said earlier, stick to supporting your favorite driver and leave the childish bashing to the soccer hooligans. We don’t need that in the great sport that is F1.

    2. sid_prasher (@)
      17th March 2012, 4:11

      After yesterday i thought that Ferrari wasn’t as bad as I thought. Now I think they are worse than what I thought. Have to now update my predictions…had Alonso in top 5…but looks improbable right now. :(

    3. I’m really interested to see how Mercedes get on….I’m terrified to see how bad Ferrari really are. McLaren and RBR look to be very, very strong.

    4. Why do I have the feeling that Vettel will still be on pole? His time was on mediums after 7 laps – surely there’s more pace to come from him. I’d say my grid prediction is;
      1. Vettel
      2. Rosberg
      3. Hamilton
      4. Webber
      5. Button
      6. Schumacher
      7. Grosjean
      8. Perez

      1. Completely agree with you . The red bull will win eerything this year. They haven’t even attempted a qualifying run while hamilton and button did many wualifyjng run and af some point couldn’t even improve the times set by the mercedes at the start of the session. Vettel kn hard tires was only 04.00 tenths slower than hamilton who tried and tried to improve his time until the last lap. The mercedes to me looks like the car that is closer to the bulls then comes the maclaren and the renault. Ferrari probably did run on high fuel but the car looks undrivable. If alonso finish the rCe it will be heroic just by seeing how that car moves every corner. Also heads need to roll at ferrari. They are problaby the team that has invested the most time in the car the built andclook how unstable that thing is.

        1. You’re talking as if it’s all cut & dry. Regardless of how many laps all of drivers ran, there’s still no way to definitively know what amount of fuel they were all running with. I realize that a lot of people assume that Red Bull will be fast just because they’re always fast, but there’s no rule that says it’s impossible for them to be overhauled. Anyone who’s watched F1 for any real amount of time knows this.
          Also, regardless of lap time, the Red Bull just doesn’t look as balanced as the McLaren… or the Mercedes for that matter. I’m not willing to call it after free practice, on a green track that’s getting faster by the lap… I know better… but as always, qualifying will just be the opening salvo in what looks to be a brutal battle: as of right now, the top 10 cars are separated by just one second! At the end of it all, they’re all going to start on full tanks & tire wear is surely going to be an issue. The better balanced cars will have the edge in the race I think, but as I said before I’m not willing to go as far as predict the outcome of the race yet, let alone the entire season after just one proper day of dry running in race trim.
          The only prediction I’ll readily make is that Ferrari is nowhere close to being good enough. That car is a complete mess at the limit. It seems to me that they abandoned qualifying simulations & decided to focus on running with lots of fuel. I’d be surprised if they make it out of Q2 to be honest.

          1. Patrick Traille
            17th March 2012, 11:25

            You show your knowledge of F1 history here!

    5. Great job to lotus…but very worrying for the ferraris. Mclaren and mercs are mighty strong, red bulls are question marks…

    6. Although I’d love to see one of the McLaren drivers on pole, I feel that Vettel will be able to pull out some speed and take it. Though that wont stop me from hoping.

    7. The battle to get into Q3 looks like it will be intense: P10-P13 covered by 0.032s.

    8. I’ve left that practice session with the belief that we could honestly see both Ferrari’s bounced out of Quali in Q2. I’m interested in seeing Kimi put in a lap in anger. Mercedes and Lotus both have me salivating for Q3 as I think they could be neck and neck for Ferrari’s absent place just behind the front runners, if not better. McLaren and Red Bull should produce as expected. Although hopefully less than expected for Vettel if I get my wish.

    9. Surely not! That would be no way to stop Vettel. Anyway I dont think Red Bull are fully up to speed with the car yet. I think Mercedes have something in reserve still and are the dark horse going into qually IMHO.
      It will be interesting to see what comes of Red Bull and Lotus’s objection to Mercedes and you have to ask why they are worried about it so early in the game. I agree with Anthony Davidson that Merc have something else up their sleeves and the rear wing is not the real source of their speed improvement. We will know soon.

    10. I’m Quietly optimistic that McLaren are strong this year. Hamilton’s time came after being out for quite a few laps, would love to see them win the constructors title this year.

    11. I somehow doubt that Ferrari will make it into Q3 but I hope their race pace is better.

      It looks like the Red Bulls, McLarens and Mercedes will be fighting for pole later on.

      1. @powderfinger – Qualifying position is perhaps the best Ferrari can hope for right now. The F2012 looks like it’s on a hair trigger, and it’s going to be difficult to drive consistently. The one-lap pace might be possible, but there is no way either driver – not even Alonso – is going to be able to maintain that pace over the race distance. It’s simply too much, and attempting to do so will likely murder the tyres.

    12. Renault/Lotus have designed a very fast car this season. The car seems very comfortable to drive.
      Kimi is lucky to have what looks to be a very competitive car on his return. The stability of the car will work great in Malaysia.

      It seems Ferrari’s exhaust layout not giving a consistent rear end. The car seems to be lacking aerodynamic balance.

    13. This is looking really good for a close race. I am struggling to sort out my top 5, there’s just so many that can, should or might do well. And no one in car trouble to take them out of the equation up front. Although I decided Alonso might qualify 5th, he certainly won’t be there at the end of the race.

    14. Two things that I’ve noticed:

      1) Caterham appear to have the pace to break into Q2 on merit. Even if Petrov and Kovalainen set those times on light fuel loads and soft tyres with everyone else, I think the practice of running on hards in Q3 because only one driver is eliminated is a thing of the past. And I think that is going to cost someone who assumes they have the pace to make Q2 on hards; Williams, I think, is looking vulnerable.

      2) Ferrari appears to have gone backwards. The F2012 is looking even less settled in stable, dry conditions than it was during FP1 and FP2. I fully expect Alonso to make Q3 on merit, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they have to burn a set of softs to do it. A smarter strategy would be to bite the bullet and qualify at the front end of Q2, then start on a mint-condition set of softs and use the narrower performance band between the tyres to play the strategy game. As for Massa, I have no idea what he is going to do. It might have to be a case of seeing what happens in qualifying, and going from there.

    15. Typical. I’ve now got to go and predict the pole sitter!

      1. I am going to go for a Mercedes pole. I have no idea other than that.

        1. @bobdredds Well, I predicted Vettel so you did better than me!

    16. Mclaren, RB and Mercedes fighting for pole.
      Lewis Hamilton for P1.

    17. Qualifying will start in 30 minutes. I can wait! My predictions for the grid is:

      1. Rosberg
      2. Vettel
      3. Hamilton
      4. Button
      5. Webber
      6. Schumacher
      7. Raikkonen
      8. Perez
      9. Alonso
      10. Grosjean

      Red Bull and Mclaren are strong. Mercedes is very, very fast. I’m optimistic about their chances this year. Renault are decently good. As a fan of them back in 2002-2008 I’m very worried about Ferrari.

    18. mcLaren look very strong, mercedes in the mix, red bull no idea, ferrari looks in a mess, lotus surprise,

    19. Well here we go again, the Bigbadderboom predictor kiss of death!! Can’t see Ferrari i Q3 Vettel is looking hassled, both McLaren boys looking comfortable, innovative Mercs looking very quick! So now watch my predictions return next to 0 poits :)

    Comments are closed.