Excitement about Formula 1 is always at a peak when it’s the start of a new season and today’s qualifying session more than lived up to the hype – a session that saw champions go out early, Red Bull looking less fizzy and McLaren showing their true speed.  The star of the session has to a certain Romain Grosjean who stuck his Lotus up on 3rd for the start – more than making up for an otherwise bad day for the team with Kimi Raikkonen going out early, starting 18th.

Ferrari’s session was appalling, Massa couldn’t get beyond the second round and Alonso, while looking to have the pace to nip into the final shoot out, beached his prancing horse in the gravel.  On the flipside, Williams had a more promising start to the season with Pastor Maldonado up in 8th and Senna in 14th.

The expectation around Mercedes wasn’t unjust – the car is quick, but alas it just didn’t come together for them with Rosberg making crucial errors on his final laps to end up 7th, and Schumacher not being quite as quick and couldn’t do better than 4th – still a massive improvement on 2011 for the team though.  Force India, Toro Rosso and Sauber are busy battling in a very tight midfield – exactly what we need for a good race!

Looking to tomorrow, one thing is for sure; the grid is set-up to deliver a potentially very exciting grand prix.

The Grid for Sunday (provisional):

1Lewis HamiltonMcLaren/Mercedes1'24.922-
2Jenson ButtonMcLaren/Mercedes1'25.0740.152
3Romain GrosjeanLotus/Renault1'25.3020.380
5Mark WebberRed Bull/Renault1'25.6510.729
6Sebastian VettelRed Bull/Renault1'25.6680.746
7Nico RosbergMercedes1'25.6860.764
8Pastor MaldonadoWilliams/Renault1'25.9080.986
9Nico HulkenbergForce India/Mercedes1'26.4511.529
10Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso/Ferrari--
11Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso/Ferrari1'26.4291.507
12Fernando AlonsoFerrari1'26.4941.572
13Kamui KobayashiSauber/Ferrari1'26.5901.668
14Bruno SennaWilliams/Renault1'26.6631.741
15Paul Di RestaForce India/Mercedes1'27.0862.164
16Felipe MassaFerrari1'27.4972.575
17Sergio PerezSauber/Ferrari--
18Kimi RaikkonenLotus/Renault1'27.7582.836
20Vitaly PetrovCaterham/Renault1'29.0184.096
21Timo GlockMarussia/Cosworth1'30.9236.001
22Charles PicMarussia/Cosworth1'31.6706.748
23Pedro de la RosaHRT/CosworthNot Qualified
24N.KarthikeyanHRT/CosworthNot Qualified
Lewis on pole
All smiles - Lewis is rightly chuffed to start the year with P1 for qualifying