Australian GP: Rain causes havoc, qualifying postponed until Sunday morning
By Berthold Bouman
Qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix at the Albert Park Circuit has been postponed until Sunday morning, as rain storms caused havoc on the Melbourne track, the start of the first session was already postponed due to the rain, after several accidents the FIA decided to continue qualifying on Sunday morning.
During Q1 several drivers crashed, yellow flags came out several times and in the end FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting decided to postpone qualifying as the conditions on track became too dangerous. When qualifying was stopped, Nico Rosberg was leading Q1 for Mercedes.
Both Caterham drivers Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde lost their front wing, Pic’s crash was worst as his car sustained a lot of damage when it hit the barrier at high speed. Miraculously, both drivers made it back to the pits with their damaged car.
Pic commented, “We made the call to switch to inters with about five minutes left of the session and for the first lap it was very tricky — there was a lot of standing water and it was hard to keep the car on track, but it improved pretty quickly and I was starting to push before I touched the white line which caused me to spin and I made contact with the barrier which meant I had to pit.”
Hamilton crashed during his first qualifying for Mercedes – Photo: Mercedes-Benz
Felipe Massa was the next driver to crash, he lost it at Turn 11 and the Ferrari F138 smashed into the barrier twice, despite the damage, the Brazilian was able to limp back to the garage for repairs.
Not much later Lewis Hamilton lost it at Turn 2 and hit the barrier backwards. He was able to get his beached Mercedes on track again, and later said, “It was pretty straightforward really, I just lost the back end and was in the wall.” And he added, “Fortunately I got going again — I was beached actually, I was stuck and luckily I put it in reverse and reversed half way up the bloody track! I can dust those kind of things off and keep looking forward to tomorrow.”
Esteban Gutierrez crashed hard at the same spot Massa had earlier crashed, Turn 11, he touched the white line, and spun into the barrier, causing a lot of damage to his brand new Sauber C32. Gutierrez said about the crash, “Unfortunately I made a mistake and feel sorry for the whole team. I feel very comfortable with the car and this is something that is a step forward for me. Now, of course, I need to avoid this kind of mistake and try to make the most of my potential.”
Esteban Gutierrez crashed hard at the end of Q1 – Photo: Sauber Motorsport
Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and Pastor Maldonado made a trip through the grass, but were able to bring their cars back to the garage. Perez said, “I think the FIA stewards made the right call to postpone Q2 and Q3. The conditions were becoming too dangerous — in terms of low visibility as well as low grip.”
Jenson Button agreed and added, “I believe the FIA had no choice. It was the right call to postpone Q2 and Q3 until tomorrow, for safety reasons.”
Q2 will start at 11am local time tomorrow, hopefully, under more favourable conditions, the local weather forecast says it should be dry tomorrow morning at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne.