The biggest and best motorsport championship is back! The drivers return to Melbourne for the traditional beginning of the 2013 Formula 1 season.
It's the first qualifying session of the season. However, the rain is pouring Down Under and that has caused some problems for the drivers and television crew alike!
World champion Sebastian Vettel
went quickest in the first two practice sessions yesterday, but an electronic problem with his car forced him off before the end of this morning's session.
That allowed Romain Grosjean
to finish top of the pile this morning. Meanwhile, the TV crews have experienced intermittent blackouts, meaning that at any moment we could suffer a break in coverage. You have been warned!
The rain is great news for one man in particular - Fernando Alonso
. The Spaniard is an expert in wet conditions, as is McLaren
's Jenson Button. The British team have struggled for pace so far this weekend, so the weather really could help Button catapult himself up the grid. But he needs the car to do so, so we'll see...
Button loves the Albert Park circuit as well. He has won here three times, including last year, when he overtook then-teammate and pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton
He has a new teammate this year in the impressive Sergio Perez. The Mexican had a marvellous campaign last year so it will be interesting to see how he handles in his new car.
Incidentally, should Button triumph this weekend he can join a small club of four-time winners of this Grand Prix. He'll be keeping great company alongside Lex Davison and Michael Schumacher. Although it looks unlikely he will do so...
We're just under 10 minutes from the start of qualifying now and the rain is still lashing down. Quite unlike Australia, especially for this time of the year (it's their summer). It's gearing up to be a very interesting session indeed.
I'm going for the Spaniard to excel in the sodden conditions. And sodden is putting it lightly, the track is completely drenched and pooling in some areas.
HRT have dropped out of the qualifying, which means that six drivers will be knocked out in Q1 and six in Q2.
BREAKING! Q1 has been delayed by 10 minutes due to the adverse weather conditions.
Each team has just three sets of wet tyres, so if this continues the teams will have to put some serious thought into conserving them as much as possible.
The Albert Park circuit is not known for it's super draining capabilities, either. It is a public track for the rest of the year, a la Monaco.
The safety car is doing a lap of the track and will report back if he thinks it is safe or not. He's looking for any standing water.
There are a few debutants this year. We have more French representation in Jules Bianchi. He will be partnering Britain's Max Chilton in the Marussia-Cosworth crew.
Q1 has been put back a further 10 minutes now.
The other rookies this year are Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber), Valtteri Bottas (Williams) and Giedo van der Garde (Caterham).
Nervous about the result? Want to 'Cash in your bet'? See how with William Hill
It looks like we will be getting underway soon. With the safety car going round the track once more we'll soon be finding out.
Nope, it's another 10-minute delay. How frustrating...
The drivers all look extremely focused during this agonsising delay, but they'll no doubt be desperate to get underway. This can't be helping the rookies, who will be suffering from a few butterflies already.
Hamilton is out of hick cockpit and having a stroll. Not much else happening at the moment...
Hamilton and Rosberg have made their way to the front of the pit lane. They've been joined by Gutierrez and it looks like we'll be starting. Hurrah!
We're underway! Lewis Hamilton is first out...
The drivers are, of course, on full wet tyres. There's plenty of spray up, making slip streaming difficult.
Van der Garde has gone off and totalled his front wing. Not the best start for the rookie then...
Hamilton clocks 1.50, but his teammates Rosberg comes round two seconds quicker.
Hamilton has stopped by the side of the track! The type of tyres means that he cannot get forward traction and he's beached the car. He bends the rules by reversing and he's back on the track, but it will be interesting to see what the stewards do about that. Reversing is a bit of a no no...
Acculmulator going well? Want to take your money now? Check out William Hill's 'CASH IN MY BET'
Rosberg has the fastest time. He's ahead of Vettel and Vergne. Massa, Hulkenberg, Hamilton and Alonso follow...
It looks like Hamilton's rear wing is damaged. He may have to come into the pits.
Well Rosberg is handling the conditions superbly as he shaves two seconds off his time.
Massa has now lost his front wing. It was a bit of a smash with the wall as he looked to lose control of the car. Could have been far worse...
Webber goes off as well. What a sight this is, cars going off left, right and centre! Meanwhile, Rosberg is still flying!
Vergne has now usurped Rosberg at the top, who has been told by the Mercedes
team to stop pushing and conserve the tyres.
AS IT STANDS: Van der Garde, Bottas, Pic, Maldonado and Chilton are in the drop zone. Bianchi is yet to complete a lap.
The intermediates are on for Di Resta and Button. One by one the drivers are coming in for the green stripes! The wet tyres just don't seem to be working very well at all...
Vettel is now the fastest man on the track. Vergne, Ricciardo, Rosberg, Raikkonen, Alonso, Hamilton, Grosjean follow...
Four of the five debutants are in the knockout zone. Perez looms just above and needs a faster time to be safe.
Bet £25 and get a £25 FREE bet with William Hill. Click here
to join now. T&Cs apply, new customers only
Button goes nearly a second faster than the rest of the field on with intermediate tyres on.
It's changing all over the place. Really hectic stuff! The intermediates are making a huge difference to the times.
CRASH! Pic and Gutierrez both go off! Different parts of the track, but their sessions look to be over!
Time is up and we're just waiting for the remaining cars to finish.
DRIVERS OUT: Maldonado, Gutierrez, Bianchi, Chilton, Van der Garde, Pic.
Rosberg finished fastest, followed by Alonso, Grosjean, Perez, Webber and Massa.
Valtteri Bottas is the only rookie to survive Q1.
Q2 will be delayed for 10 minutes. I'm not surprised, they were some tough conditions in Q1.
Max Chilton: "First ever qualifying, I'm really happy with it. We finished in front of the Caterham, so I know we've got a good car for tomorrow."
Another 10-minute delay. Of course safety is paramount, but it is frustrating. We wait for the start of the season and for it to be fractured like this just makes to antsy.
It's 6.06pm local time and the darkness is starting to set in around Melbourne. We hope to be getting underway with Q2 in the next few minutes.
BREAKING! Q2 will not get underway before 7.30am (UK time).
Pastor Maldonado: "The car is undriveable at the moment and we need to work."
A "very heavy shower" has been predicted imminently, which is why there has been a 20-minute delay imposed.
Reports suggest that we should have around another hour of race-able light. If there's no conclusion today then it'll happen before the race tomorrow.
The problem seems to be the white lines on the track, being that this is a street circuit it's unavoidable. Plenty of drivers spun off in Q1, but fortunately no injuries. Except to the cars. Poor cars.
We're still not sure if we'll be getting underway. The heavy shower that has been predicted could mean that we won't get done today.
Q2 DELAYED BY 20 MINUTES
It's now touch and go whether we'll finish today.
Heikki Kovalainen (Twitter): "C'mon the rain is not that bad, get on with it… #F1"
Nervous about the result? Want to 'Cash in your bet'? See how with William Hill
Still no word on whether we'll get underway soon. Another delay would surely mean that we'll be back early tomorrow.
Ted Kravitz reporting on Sky Sports that the weather does not look good at all. The wind is proving to be a particular problem now, but it looks like we could at least start Q2. Whether we finish is still anyone's guess...
The drivers are getting strapped into their cars, though. At least some signs for optimism.
BREAKING! Q2 and Q3 has been postponed until tomorrow morning.
Well that's that then. The weather has put paid to today's qualifying. We will have to wait until tomorrow to see who will start on pole for the Australian Grand Prix
So join us tomorrow from midnight for Q2 and Q3. The race will get underway at the scheduled time of 6am. So it shouldn't really matter too much. Let's hope for dry weather!