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As it happened: Qualifying
By Geoff Creighton and Emlyn Hughes
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
Cars leave the pits
Cars leave the pits © Sutton
05:45 Hello everyone and welcome back to AUTOSPORT Live for continuing coverage of the second round in the 2010 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

The practice sessions have been completed, and now it is time to qualify for the Qantas Australian Grand Prix.

The action picked up with a busy final practice session earlier this morning, setting the scene for a frantic battle for the all-important grid positions.

With unsettled weather, the prospect of traffic being a major factor and just over a second covering the top ten cars in final practice, the upcoming hour is set to be fascinating.

Mark Webber
Mark Webber © Sutton
05:47 Mark Webber threw down the gauntlet to the rest of the field in final practice earlier today, with an impressive performance in his Red Bull Renault.

Fernando Alonso set the pace initially and Michael Schumacher briefly rolled back the years with a spell at the head of the list, but was the Australian who blazed round Albert Park in 1m24.719s on soft tyres to signal his intent for qualifying.

The RB6 looks well suited to the parkland circuit, particularly in the final sector of the lap. Sebastian Vettel proved Red Bull's speed with fourth place, ahead of Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button.

The top nine drivers were covered by 0.830 seconds, setting us up for a closely-fought battle for the top positions on the grid.

Bruno Senna was the major casualty during the 60-minute session, slowing to a halt at Turn 2 at the half-way point with another hydraulic failure on the HRT. Team-mate Chandhok also stopped in the closing minutes.

Webber leads final practice in Australia

05:49 The weather situation is changing all the time over Melbourne. Yesterday, the showers could be seen on the local rainfall radar coming in from the west.

Today, we have that element of showers building and moving slowly towards Albert Park. Crucially, to the east of the city, showers are also developing from nothing. A sprinkling of rain is just possible during the session.

Track conditions will also be impacted by a major crash that occurred at the start of the GT support race around an hour ago. The pile up, which caused the race to be abandoned, left oil and debris on the circuit heading down to Turn 1, which marshals have been busy cleaning up ever since.

Fans © Sutton
05:51 Motor racing enthusiasts love to debate and discuss the action on track, and the live forum at the bottom of the screen is your chance to let everyone know your thoughts on events as they unfold at the circuit.

• Will showers hit the circuit during qualifying to spice up the action even further?

• Can Mark Webber put his Melbourne jinx to bed and take pole in front of his home crowd?

• Who will join the Lotus, Virgin and HRT drivers as the unlucky loser in the first period of qualifying?

Tell the world what you think.

Click the SHOW LIVE FORUM link in the red bar at the bottom of your browser window if you'd like to join the debate.

05:53 Here is a look at how the qualifying battle is shaping up within each team early in the season:
Qualifying head-to-head

Button          0 - 1      Hamilton
Schumacher	0 - 1      Rosberg
Vettel		1 - 0      Webber
Massa		1 - 0      Alonso
Barrichello	1 - 0      Hulkenberg
Kubica		1 - 0      Petrov
Sutil		1 - 0      Liuzzi
Buemi	        1 - 0      Alguersuari
Trulli		1 - 0      Kovalainen
Chandhok	0 - 1      Senna
De la Rosa	1 - 0	   Kobayashi
Glock		1 - 0 	   Di Grassi
05:55 We are poised for a hard-fought battle for the grid, now just five minutes away.

05:55 With overcast skies and the chance of a shower, the track temperature is just 23 Celsius.

05:57 The top teams will not be too worried about escaping this first period and are likely to run several laps on the harder tyres.

05:58 Timo Glock is calmly watching the monitor from his Virgin cockpit as we move to just a couple of minutes before the session opens.

05:58 Glock is told on the team radio that showers are springing up all the time but currently no showers are forecast to hit the circuit.

0 min: The qualifying period has started.

0 min: Tonio Liuzzi gets the action underway in the Force India. He is followed by team-mate Adrian Sutil.

1 min: Felipe Massa joins the early runners to bank a time

1 min: Karun Chandhok joins the track with a set of soft tyres bolted onto his HRT machine.

2 min: Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg take to the track. Bruno Senna and Sebastien Buemi join them.

2 min: Alonso, Petrov and Kubica are among those making it half of the field on track.

3 min: Liuzzi completes the first lap of qualifying and posts 1m28.848s.

3 min: Sutil beats that with a 1m28.031s lap as the other drivers begin their timed lap.

3 min: Felipe Massa is the quickest man through the first sector on the harder tyres.

4 min: Massa caught Barrichello's Williams and only clocked a slow 1m31.306s.

4 min: Sebastian Vettel comes out as the other drivers are flying round on a hot lap. He will be playing dodgeball on his first tour.

5 min: Alonso meanwhile had a clean tour to set a 1m26.162s to top the early order.

5 min: Sebastien Buemi goes fourth in the Toro Rosso with 1m28.448s.

5 min: Robert Kubica has slotted in second so far in his Renault.

5 min: The harder tyre delivers improved grip after several laps of warming up, meaning a spurt of times to come.

6 min: Chandhok and Senna have put in sensible first efforts on their first timed lap. Webber now goes to the top with 1m25.951s.

6 min: Alonso cuts through the heavy traffic to set the benchmark at 1m25.522s.

7 min: The traffic situation is horrendous with all 24 cars on the circuit. Schumacher is now third behind Alonso and Webber with 1m26.218s.

7 min: The McLaren pair are only just starting their runs.

7 min: Massa is tucked up behind Vettel's Red Bull and is currently eighth quickest.

7 min: Vettel goes third with a lap of 1m26.156s in the other Red Bull Renault, but he is demoted by Rosberg who is now second - 1m25.562s.

8 min: Lewis Hamilton is fastest through the middle sector and clocks a 1m26.019s to go seventh.

8 min: The order behind Alonso changes again. Now we have Rosberg second, Schumacher third, Barrichello fourth and Sutil in fifth spot.

9 min: Mark Webber now takes his turn at the top again with 1m25.286s.

9 min: Alonso demotes Webber back down to second as he takes the top time back in 1m25.082s.

10 min: Rosberg and Schumacher have pitted their Mercedes cars, as has Sutil who is suddenly down to eighth.

10 min: Jenson Button's first time has left him down in 14th but he improves considerably to third with a 1m25.461s.

10 min: Sebastian Vettel puts the second Red Bull at the head of the field with 1m24.774s. The RB6s are flying.

11 min: Hamilton is now fastest through the first sector and his best through the middle part of the lap.

11 min: Team-mate Button, meanwhile, moves up to second quickest.

11 min: Predictably, the six drivers belonging to the three new teams are in the dropzone. A seventh unlucky driver will join them.

12 min: Hamilton had a major moment in the final corner while catching traffic. He is now third quickest.

12 min: Felipe Massa heads out again after a poor first run. Ferrari report he had traffic on his previous efforts.

13 min: Sebastian Buemi is the driver in 18th spot and set to join the other six who we expect to go out. He is around four-tenths of a second shy of Petrov's 17th place.

14 min: Race engineers up and down the pitlane are hearing of the major problems with traffic on the first runs.

14 min: Massa is on to a flying lap with a new set of the harder tyres.

14 min: Massa needs to find some pace here as he is in 14th at the moment and only six-tenths of a second clear of the dropzone.

15 min: It's a 1m25.635s for Massa, putting him seventh and well clear of the dropzone.

16 min: The drivers close to the drop are coming out now. Buemi joins the track along with Petrov and la Rosa. These three drivers are fighting to survive currently.

16 min: Michael Schumacher is out for another run but most of the leading contenders are in the pits to save tyres.

18 min: Schumacher improves his time with a 1m25.703s but remains eighth.

18 min: Buemi is set to bump Petrov into the dropzone in the fight for 17th. The Toro Rosso driver posts 1m26.061s to go 11th.

18 min: Massa is quicker this time around to take his Ferrari up to sixth.

19 min: Petrov now needs to respond. Alguersuari is 17th and facing the chop if the Russian improves.

19 min: Sutil takes that spot away as he puts the Force India well in to the top 10.

19 min: Petrov crosses the line and does not improve his time He backed off in the final couple of corners so he can have another crack at a time.

20 min: Robert Kubica goes 12th in his Renault.

20 min: Alguersuari improves to 15th place and looks like he may just be safe now.

06:21 Nico Rosberg springs up to second quickest with a late run on the harder tyres.

06:21 Petrov is on his final effort ... and it's not good enough. He loses out by two-tenths of a second.

06:22 The first phase of qualifying has been completed. The following seven drivers have been eliminated:

18) Petrov
19) Kovalainen
20) Trulli
21) Glock
22) Di Grassi
23) Senna
24) Chandhok.

06:22 Vettel, Rosberg, Button, Hamilton, Alonso, Webber and Schumacher was the final order at the top of the session.

06:23 Replays showed Vitaly Petrov having a major moment exiting Turn 12 on his last run. He pushed as hard as possible, but ultimately, too hard.

06:24 There are some spots of rain falling at the circuit.

06:25 HRT drivers Senna and Chandhok should be commended. They posted laps in the mid 1m30s bracket - four seconds away from the coveted top 17 places but only 5.9s shy of Button's leading pace.

0 min: A tight scramble for the top ten is starting under threatening skies.

0 min: The 17 drivers that have made it through will now reset and go again. The aim is to get into the top ten for the final shootout.

0 min: Mark Webber and Tonio Liuzzi head straight out onto the circuit, with rain possible.

1 min: The McLaren and Ferrari drivers head out too, with Massa going for the softer tyres.

1 min: Webber has decided to go out using a set of the hard tyres for this first run in the second part of qualifying. Schumacher and Rosberg are also out.

1 min: Webber blasts across the line to start his qualifying effort.

2 min: These first laps will be critical, just in case the rain does reach the circuit.

3 min: Alonso is topping the sectors as the first flying laps continue.

3 min: Webber is pushing very hard and needs to be careful he doesn't give it too much or he could so easily be in trouble. He posts 1m24.797s.

3 min: A 1m24.459s is a quick early time for Alonso to top the order.

4 min: Rosberg goes third with 1m25.245s.

4 min: Massa slots in third with Button sixth and Hamilton 12th.

5 min: Alonso is on the softer tyres but can't quite match his earlier time.

5 min: Webber moves to within one tenth of Alonso with 1m24.523s with his second flyer.

5 min: Hamilton has abandoned his run on the soft tyres and is currently under threat in 16th.

5 min: Behind Alonso and Webber, Vettel is third with Rosberg fourth, Massa fifth and Button sixth in these opening exchanges.

6 min: Michael Schumacher posted a 1m25.398s for seventh but is immediately back into the pits for another set of tyres.

6 min: Jenson Button is on the softer tyres and puts the McLaren up to third quickest with a 1m24.531s.

8 min: All 17 drivers have now posted a time. Sutil, Liuzzi, Kobayashi, de la Rosa, Hulkenberg, Alguersuari and Hamilton are all in the dropzone.

9 min: Lewis Hamilton is back out there now with a set of soft tyres on the McLaren. He is three seconds away from tenth position.

9 min: Alonso has gone out for another run in the Ferrari.

10 min: Force India sends Sutil and Liuzzi out into battle to attack the top ten. They are 11th and 12th currently.

10 min: Alonso is on the harder rubber to see if it is a strategic option for Q3. Webber has been very quick on that rubber so far.

10 min: Hamilton starts his flying lap and is looking to beat 1m25.638s to make it into the top ten at the moment.

11 min: Tenth place is currently occupied by Sebastien Buemi in the Toro Rosso.

11 min: Hamilton is quick and should easily make it on this lap. It's a traffic-free lap and he posts 1m25.251s for seventh.

11 min: All but the Sauber drivers are now out, so more traffic problems can be expected.

12 min: Hamilton needs to stay out and hammer out another quick lap. Schumacher is eighth and also under threat.

12 min: Hamilton's lap bumped Buemi down to 11th. He is one tenth shy of Kubica's current tenth place.

14 min: Adrian Sutil is on a flyer in 12th and could cause Kubica a headache. Kubica is slower as he tries to respond.

14 min: Vettel is one of the few drivers setting a better time and he clocks a 1m24.312s to go second quickest.

14 min: Kubica improves to ninth, dropping Hamilton to tenth. Sutil comes through and it is a good time, dropping Hamilton outside the top ten!

15 min: Schumacher improves to sixth, pulling himself just about clear of the drop.

15 min: Hamilton has not been able to respond. The 2008 champion is out!

15 min: Alonso improves, but remains third, while Vettel tops the order with a 1m24.096s.

06:42 The segment is over.

06:44 The second phase of qualifying has been completed. The following seven drivers have been eliminated:

11) Hamilton
12) Buemi
13) Liuzzi
14) De la Rosa
15) Hulkenberg
16) Kobayashi
17) Alguersuari.

06:44 Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Button, Rosberg, Schumacher, Massa, Sutil, Barrichello and Kubica will compete for the pole.

06:46 Lewis Hamilton's qualifying effort was compromised severely once he abandoned that lap on his first run. Surprisingly he didn't have the pace on the soft tyres on his final attempt.

The Briton faces 58 laps of heavy traffic tomorrow.

06:47 So these are the names who have made it through to the final shootout:

Sebastian Vettel
Mark Webber
Fernando Alonso
Jenson Button
Nico Rosberg
Michael Schumacher
Felipe Massa
Adrian Sutil
Rubens Barrichello
Robert Kubica.

06:49 The teams now must decide if they should compromise on the harder tyres for durability in the first stint or the one-lap speed of the softs.

06:49 The weather radar shows the showers moving ever closer to Albert Park, but we may just scrape through with a dry end to the session.

0 min: The battle for pole is now underway.

0 min: Alonso and Massa head out immediately to cover the threat of rain.

0 min: Webber, Barrichello and Schumacher are straight out onto the circuit to begin the final bid for pole position.

1 min: Nico Rosberg is also out there, a few seconds behind the leading group on the road.

1 min: Alonso has a lot of clear space in front of him as he begins a flying lap.

2 min: Webber crosses the line to start his timed lap. Could this be the day he scores the pole at home? We will find out in less than 8 minutes.

2 min: The Spaniard will need to find a very special lap to try and beat the Red Bull pair.

3 min: Alonso's first run is a 1m24.606s.

3 min: Webber is stunningly quick in sectors one and two. He beats Alonso with 1m24.035s.

3 min: Schumacher is third and Barrichello fourth following their first effort.

3 min: Vettel is quicker in the first and second sectors and looks on course for the top time.

4 min: Maximum attack from Vettel with a 1m23.919s to take the provisional pole despite some scary moments in the final sector.

4 min: Rosberg pops into fourth place with a 1m24.884s lap.

4 min: Button has slotted in fifth with his first attempt.

5 min: Alonso improves with his next lap, warming the tyres, but is still well off the flying Red Bulls.

5 min: The order is Vettel, from Webber, Alonso, Rosberg, Button, Schumacher and Barrichello after the first of two runs.

6 min: The Red Bull drivers come back to the pits for a change of tyres. It looks like they will fight eachother for the pole.

6 min: Button is making another effort but is four tenths off pole by the end of the second sector.

7 min: Webber exits the pits and joins the racetrack, as he bids to usurp his team-mate.

7 min: Button improves to third quickest with his second attempt of 1m24.675s.

7 min: Nico Rosberg has come out with a set of the harder tyres bolted on to the Mercedes. Schumacher has yet to leave the pits.

8 min: Schumacher exits now to join the high speed charge for the front of the grid.

8 min: There are still odd spots of rain in the air but nothing substantial.

8 min: Massa completes his second flyer in 1m24.837s, taking fifth.

8 min: Schumacher is also out using the harder tyre, as Webber sets the timing screen alight with a 28.0s first sector.

9 min: Alonso is on for a better lap ... 1m24.111 but he remains third.

9 min: Webber is flying in the RB6 and he crosses the line in 1m24.154s. It's not good enough to demote Vettel so far.

9 min: Vettel is on to his second flyer but he is already looking secure on pole.

10 min: Webber has slowed down. Vettel is safe from his team-mate at least.

10 min: Chequred flag, but the laps continue ...

07:00 No improvement on this lap but Sebastian Vettel takes pole for the Australian Grand Prix!

07:01 Rosberg completes the final lap of qualifying but he cannot improve on sixth place.

07:02 Mark Webber's dreams of pole have been shattered by his team-mate. The Australian will try to have the last laugh tomorrow.

07:02 "We will show them!" Vettel tells his team as he heads back to the pits as the delighted polesitter.

07:03 Fernando Alonso leads the Ferrari challenge from third place on the grid. Button will start fourth with Felipe Massa in fifth place.

07:04 Rosberg is again ahead of team-mate Schumacher. They start sixth and seventh for Mercedes, with Barrichello a great eighth in the Williams.

07:04 Robert Kubica will start tomorrow's race from the fifth row of the grid. The Pole qualified ninth with Adrian Sutil in tenth.

07:06 Here are the final times:

Vettel heads all-Red Bull front row

07:10 The Red Bull machine has sent a message to the rest of the grid, with a great performance. Vettel versus Webber down to Turn 1 is a tantalising prospect for tomorrow.

Fernando Alonso will keep the leading two honest as he looks to build on his victory in Bahrain. Schumacher and Rosberg are in the mix, but lacked the outright speed in qualifying.

The grid is nicely set, the weather is uncertain and we will have 24 cars racing at Albert Park for the first time.

Make sure you don't miss the Australian Grand Prix here with us on AUTOSPORT Live. Our race day coverage begins at 04:30 GMT.

Session length: 60 minutes
Overcast High Temp: 23°C / 73°F
Track: Dry
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Monday 22 Mar Start GMT
 Australian Grand Prix Weather 15:00
Friday 26 Mar
 Friday Practice 1 01:15
 Friday Practice 2 05:15
Saturday 27 Mar
 Saturday Practice 02:45
 Qualifying 05:45
Sunday 28 Mar
 Race day at Albert Park 04:30