Sebastian Vettel claimed pole position for the Australian Grand Prix in dominant fashion, blitzing the McLarens and Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber in the process.
After Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button set the early benchmark, Vettel produced a lap of 1min 23.529secs to put the issue beyond doubt, lapping almost a second clear of the 2008 world champion. To underline his position at the front, when Webber crossed the line on his first flying lap, he was fully eight-tenths off the pace, albeit in second place.
Vettel’s subsequent attempts failed to lower the target time, but it was always out of reach, even though Hamilton improved to second – despite a KERS failure – denying Red Bull Racing a 1-2 lock-out on the grid. Webber survived a late assault from Button to give the first two rows a symmetrical look, while Fernando Alonso had to make do with fifth, despite his split times suggesting better was on the cards for Ferrari.
Vitaly Petrov ensured that Renault had a representative in the top 10, his sixth spot highlighting the disappointing performance of team-mate Nick Heidfeld, while Nico Rosberg, Felipe Massa, Kamui Kobayashi and Sebastien Buemi rounded out the top 10. Massa’s woeful session continued with a turn one spin that all but ended his chances of improving on eighth, while Kobayashi was unable to repeat his earlier performances as the pace hotted up.