World Champion Sebastian Vettel has started his 2013 campaign in perfect style, leading the field in both Friday practice sessions, but storms threaten to deny his chances of a 37th pole position on Saturday.
Vettel lead team-mate Mark Webber in the second session, strengthening the view that Red Bull may have been hiding their pace throughout pre-season testing.
But the Milton Keynes-based team unable to hide their issues with tyre degradation.
As teams turned their approach to heavy runs, the new Pirellis began to show their weakness.
Webber spun in Turn 13 late in the session, while the whole field became gradually slower as practice continued.
Mercedes carried out late-session exits, whose drivers Hamilton and Rosberg succumbed to suspected brake and gear box failures.
But while Red Bull has perfected the practice of controlling races from the front, they’re unable to control the weather.
Storms are predicted throughout Saturday, potentially shaking up the grid and bringing forward unexpected results.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology claims there is an 80% chance of precipitation throughout the day, potentially reaching up to 15mm of rain all together.
“A shower or two [are expected to] develop in the late morning,” the forecast for Melbourne says. “Showers [will] become widespread during the afternoon.”
With qualifying scheduled to begin at 5pm local time, Formula One’s first official qualifying session of 2013 looks unlikely to show the cars in at full pace.
The Australian Grand Prix last held a qualifying session in the rain during the 2005 season and brought local hero Mark Webber to a surprise third position on the grid.
Photo courtesy of Robert Cianflone, Getty Images.