Qualifying for the Formula One season opener in Melbourne, Australia has been resecheduled for Sunday after a series of rain delays and darkness prevented the running of second and third sessions.
Saturday's opening segment of qualifying was completed after a delay but, as the rain persisted and the skies grew
darker, race officials decided the final two parts would take place at 11am (0000 GMT) local time on Sunday.
The decision was hampered by the late start time of qualifying, 5pm (0600 GMT) local time, which meant delays
for rain risked the light failing.
After a bright, sunny morning at Albert Park, the rain descended in time to disrupt the final practice session and
rarely relented after that. During the final practice session world champion Sebastian Vettel was told to stop
his Red Bull Racing car out on the track after fears of a mechanical problem. However he did take part in qualifying.
The first section of qualifying started with plenty of water still on the circuit and ended with more rain and bits of car strewn across the track as the drivers struggled to control their machines.
Nico Rosberg of Mercedes set the quickest time in that session in one minute 43.380, ahead of Ferrari's Fernando
Alonso and Romain Grosjean in a Lotus.
McLaren's Jenson Button escaped an embarrassing exit by making an early gamble on intermediate tyres but Pastor
Maldonado of Williams was late to make the change and was one of the six drivers eliminated.
The Venezuelan, a race winner last year in Spain, was accompanied by four of the five rookies.
Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez, the Marussias of Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton as well as Caterham driver Giedo van der Garde were also eliminated.
Charles Pic had a big crash before the end of the session and failed to record a time inside 107 percent of the quickest in his Caterham and so will have to appeal to the stewards to race on Sunday.
Hamilton was the first driver to set a lap time but his day almost came to an end on his next lap when he spun his Mercedes at turn two and bumped into the tyre wall before appearing to get bogged down on the trackside grass.
The former world champion finally managed to get his car back on the track and, despite his team fearing he had rear wing damage, stayed out on the track to record the tenth quickest time.
That set the trend for the session as car after car spun off and bits of wreckage littered the track.