Hamilton breathes sigh of relief
Lewis Hamilton was left breathing a sigh of relief after avoiding the prospect of making his race debut with Mercedes at the back of the grid.
After a 30-minute delay to qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix as heavy rain hit Melbourne's Albert Park, Hamilton was the first out on track.
But just a few minutes into the initial 20-minute session Hamilton was caught out by a river of water on the approach to turn two, forcing him to lock his brakes and slide backwards across the track.
After clipping a barrier with his rear wing, the 28-year-old ended up beaching his car on a kerb, and for a few heartstopping moments it seemed he would be unable to free himself.
Instead, after an attempt to rock himself forwards, Hamilton selected reverse and gingerly manoeuvred backwards as other cars flashed by.
At that stage, Hamilton's time would not have been good enough to see him into the remainder of qualifying, which has been postponed until Sunday due to the conditions.
"I was beached, I was stuck, but fortunately I was able to put it in reverse," said Hamilton.
"It wasn't the best of situations to be in, but at least I didn't take any wheels off. You can laugh off those kind of things."
Team principal Ross Brawn was also left smiling as he said: "I was trying to remember if we had taught him how to select reverse - luckily we had.
"I wasn't sure what had happened at first because all we saw was the internal shot of the car. I hadn't realised he'd spun. I thought we'd had a reliability problem, which is always a big disappointment.
"Clearly something caught Lewis out on the track, so you feel a bit better when you realise it's not a car problem.
"Fortunately he had the good sense to use reverse and get going again."
Although the second and third sessions of qualifying will take place six hours ahead of the race, Hamilton does not feel it will pose any problems.
"It doesn't compromise the race," added Hamilton.
"It's better actually because you can have a bit of a warm-up, your body should be energised and ready for the race.
"So I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I'm hoping we've dry conditions because they were pretty tricky out there for everyone."