Sebastian Vettel secured his third Australian GP pole position in four seasons, edging team-mate Mark Webber on a drying Albert Park circuit.
With the final two sessions of qualifying postponed until Sunday morning it initially appeared as if it was going to be more of the same as Q1 as Nico Rosberg set the pace in the wet in the second session. However, as the track continued to dry out, Q3 saw the drivers switch to the supersoft tyres.
Vettel posted the fastest lap time, a 1:27.407 to edge Webber by 0.420s at the Aussie's home track. Lewis Hamilton was third, 0.680s down while Felipe Massa edged Fernando Alonso for fifth place by a mere 0.003s!
Following a morning of showers the cars were keen to get out on track in case more rain was to come in the fifteen minutes of Q2. All cars were fitted with Inters, but the track was dry enough to have the DRS enabled.
The ambient temperature was 13C and the track at 15C and drying, so times were going to tumble. Nico Rosberg set the first P1 time at 1:40.423 - Sergio Perez managed to get P2 and then twenty seconds later was down in P8.
Rosberg took his own P1 time down to 1:38.930, then Vettel wrested it from him with a 1:38.647, Alonso was next at the top with a 1:38.555 despite a last corner slide and then Vettel was back in front with a 1:37.640.
Nico Rosberg re-asserted himself in P1 with a 1:37.325, before Vettel snatched it back for a third time with a 1:36.873. Inevitably Rosberg got it back with a 1:36.194.
The McLarens were having dramas swapping from inters to slicks and then back to inters again. Sergio Perez went out on slicks but got a puncture atTurn 9 and took a long time to get back to the pits - and when he went out again he had no 'read' on what he should be doing with his slick tyres.
Running into the final four minutes, the danger positions were: 8.Vergne, 9.Raikkonen, 10.Hulkenberg, 11.Massa, 12.Ricciardo, 13.di Resta, 14.Perez, 15.Bottas, 16.Sutil.
Sutil leapt forward to P7, Raikkonen took P8, Paul DiResta grabbed P4 and when Nico Hulkenberg put his Sauber in P7 Jenson Button had been pushed down to P11. Massa made himself safe with a P4 and then Jenson Button confirmed his participation in Q3 by taking P4 off him.
So out went: 11.Hulkenberg, 12.Sutil, 13.Vergne, 14.Ricciardo, 15.Perez, 16.Bottas.
The early cars out in Q3 were all shod with inters. Led off by the two Mercedes, Nico Rosberg posted provisional pole with a 1:33.684 and that was undercut by Lewis Hamilton with a 1:33.623.
As the track dried out, so the Red Bulls began to exert their authority and also Hamilton began to ease past his team-mate having lagged in the mixed conditions. Vettel stuck his RB9 into provisional pole with a 1:32.604 - a second quicker.
Only seven cars set an early time before coming back in for slick tyres - the first run order was: 1.Vettel, 2.Hamilton, 3.Rosberg, 4.Webber, 5.Alonso, 6.Raikkonen, 7.Massa.
Jenson Button was the first one out on slicks and took provisional pole with a 1:32.485. Behind him everyone was now equipped with the red-walled supersoft tyres and Lewis Hamilton decimated his former team-mate's time with a 1:29.184.
Paul di Resta slotted into P2 and then Felipe Massa took P2 before Vettel powered across the line with a 1:27.407. Mark Webber made it a Red Bull front row while behind, Rosberg, Alonso and then Felipe Massa all jostled for the P4 position with Massa ending up just a few thousandths in front of his team-mate. Button could go no quicker on his final lap and ended the session in a disappointing P10 (and with grained rear tyres which will hamper his first stint).
So, Red Bull on the front row, a resurgent Lewis Hamilton in P3, Massa in P4 and Alonso in P5 with Rosberg in P6, and the Lotuses of Raikkonen P7 and Grosjean P8 were ahead of P9 DiResta and P10 Button.
With weather conditions likely to be dry but cold it's anticipated to be at least a three-stop race for the front-runners later today.
01. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m27.407
02. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m27.827s +0.420
03. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m28.087s +0.680
04. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m28.490s +1.083
05. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m28.493s +1.086
06. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m28.523s +1.116
07. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m28.738s +1.331
08. Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault 1m29.013s +1.606
09. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m29.305s +1.898
10. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m30.357s +2.950
11. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m38.067s +1.873
12. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m38.134s +1.940
13. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m38.778s +2.584
14. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m39.042s +2.848
15. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m39.900s +3.706
16. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m40.290s +4.096
17. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m37.593s +2.024
17. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m47.614s +4.234
18. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m47.776s + 4.396
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m48.147s +4.767
20. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m48.909s +5.529
21. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m49.519s+6.139
22. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m50.626s +7.246