Mar 16, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT
Before the decision was taken to postpone qualifying until Sunday morning, Nico Rosberg set the quickest time of the session in the wet conditions. The Mercedes driver posted a best time of 1:43.380 on the intermediate tires as a drying line began to emerge towards the end of the session.
Following a thirty minute delay, Mercedes lined up at the end of the pit lane in order to avoid the rush, and this move paid off as Rosberg and teammate Lewis Hamilton both set good times on the wet tires. Despite battling a congested track, many of the drivers went close to the Silver Arrows’ times, with Vettel, Vergne and Alonso all vying for top spot during the early part of the session.
Although the conditions were catching many of the drivers out, Jenson Button and Paul di Resta opted to move onto the intermediates, and once Button had gone quickest the rest of the field followed suit to fit the blue-ringed tires.
It was a question of being the last man to take the chequered flag on a drying line. Williams driver Pastor Maldonado was caught out and subsequently eliminated. The final flurry of times failed to see much change due to a yellow flag caused by Esteban Gutierrez who had hit the wall, with the Mexican driver also dropping out in Q1. Marussia managed to stay out late and outqualify closest rivals Caterham, and the yellow flags may have hindered their final efforts.
Edging through were Valtteri Bottas and Adrian Sutil, both of whom will be pleased to have a shot at making Q3 tomorrow.
Qualifying will resume tomorrow morning in Melbourne, with six drivers being eliminated in Q2 before the top ten shootout for pole position.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!