Most of the pit lane thought McLaren had got it wrong with their new nose – a sleek nose instead of the stepped one almost all the rest of the field have this year – but as far as the opening qualifying of the 2012 F1 circus they seem to have got it just right.
Hamilton set a stunning lap to open final qualifying, with Jenson Button managing to almost match his team mate with a lap just 0.152 seconds behind to make the front row a McLaren lock-out.
The big surprise – although many predicted they could be strong this year – was the Lotus of Romain Grosjean which took third spot, with an impressive Michael Schumacher in the Mercedes in fourth. So that’s three world champions in the top four.
The other three world champions in the field this year fared less well. Fernanado Alonso didn’t even make it to final qualifying with his Ferrari managing only 12th place and team-mate Felipe Massa 16th, confirming the woeful performance from Ferrari in pre-season testing.
Returning champion Kimi Raikkonen – who had been expected to put in a strong performance in the promising Lotus – paid the price for being out of F1 for a while when he ran out of time to set a good time, ending up a lowly18th. But if Grosjean’s performance is anything to go by we could see Raikkonen storming through the field in the race.
And finally, last year’s champion Sebastian Vettel didn’t set Melbourne alight with his Red Bull finishing on the third row in 6th place, just behind team-mate Mark Webber.