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Practice and qualifying

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM05.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 16 March 2012 (L to R): Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren and Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren celebrate in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 24 March 2012 Timo Glock (GER) Marussia F1 Team MR01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 7 July 2012

At each Grand Prix meeting all race drivers may participate in two one and a half-hour practice sessions on Friday (Thursday at Monaco), a one-hour session on Saturday morning and a qualifying session on Saturday afternoon. While individual practice sessions are not compulsory, a driver must take part in at least one Saturday session to be eligible for the race.

Saturday's qualifying session, designed to take about an hour, is split into three distinct parts, each with multiple drivers on track simultaneously, and each with the drivers running as many laps as they want:

Q1: All 22 cars may run laps at any time during the first 18 minutes of the hour. At the end of the first 18 minutes, the six slowest cars drop out and fill the final six grid places. However, any driver whose best Q1 lap time exceeds 107 percent of the fastest time set during that session will not be allowed to take part in the race.

(Under exceptional circumstances, which could include setting a suitable lap time in a practice session, the stewards may allow the driver to start the race. Should there be more than one driver accepted in this manner, the grid order will be determined by the stewards.)

Q2: After a seven-minute break, the times will be reset and the 16 remaining cars then will then run in a 15-minute session - again they may complete as many laps as they want at any time during that period. At the end of the 15 minutes, the six slowest cars drop out and fill places 11 to 16 on the grid.

Q3: After a further eight-minute break, the times are reset and a final 12-minute session will feature a shootout between the remaining 10 cars to decide pole position and the starting order for the top 10 grid places. Again, these cars may run as many laps as they wish.

If a driver impedes another driver during qualifying, his times may be cancelled or he may be given a grid penalty.