Karthikeyan to miss season-opening F1 Australian Grand Prix

Last Updated: Mar 26, 2011, 18:35 PM IST

Melbourne: India`s Narain Karthikeyan will miss Sunday`s season-opening Formula One Australian Grand Prix here as his Hispania team car, which he drove without any pre-season test, failed to clear the cut-off timing in the qualifying session on Saturday.

Karthikeyan and his team-mate Vitantonio Liuzzi were
ruled ineligible for tomorrow`s race because under the
re-introduced "107 per cent" rule, they were more than seven
per cent slower than session winner Sebastian Vettel of Red
Bull.

With the cut-off time set at 1:31.266, Liuzzi could
manage only 1:32.978 and Karthikeyan had 1:34.293. Liuzzi
missed the cut-off time by around 1.7 seconds while
Karthikeyan was slow by over three seconds.

Hispania, which assembled their car here only without
running it in pre-season tests, made an exemption request,
pleading "exceptional circumstances" for the poor times but
race stewards turned it down and excluded the team from
tomorrow`s race.

Meanwhile, Force India`s Paul di Resta will start 14th at
the grid tomorrow, two places ahead of team-mate Adrian Sutil
who spun his car at the final turn but continued to complete
the race.

Sutil spun his car 360 degrees coming out of the final
turn, narrowly missing a wall while disappearing in tire
smoke, before regaining control and continuing his lap.

World champion Sebastian Vettel will start from pole
position after a dominant performance by the Red Bull driver
in today`s qualifying.

Vettel had a time of 1 minute, 23.529 seconds, more than
three-quarters of a second quicker than nearest rival Lewis
Hamilton of McLaren.

Red Bull`s Mark Webber will start from third in front of
his home crowd, with Jenson Button of McLaren fourth as he
attempts to win the race for a third straight year.

Fernando Alonso of Ferrari qualified fifth, 1.4 seconds
behind Vettel, while teammate Felipe Massa was eighth.

Mercedes` former world champion Michael Schumacher was a
disappointing 11th.

PTI