Race

5.03 Second half of the track looks drier as Vettel lines up on the grid.

5.02The Virgins are being prepared in the pits after they broke the Parc Ferme regulations to make necessary changes to the cars.

5.01 They all make it away clenly but it is definitely wet out there. Rain lights are blinking on the back of the cars as Button locks a tyre on the greasy surface.

5.00 Inters for all by the looks of it as they leave the grid. for the warm-up lap

4.59 Tyre covers come off and its inters for Schumacher, Hamilton and Button

4.57 Welcome, it looks like all the teams are now changing to inters. It'll be a very brave decision to start on slicks.

4.55pm And as the teams ponder tyre choice, to take you through the race it will be Laurence Edmondson.

4.54pm Mercedes tells Schumacher to expect "15 minutes of rain so if it carries on like this we'll start on inters". And the teams are all bringing intermediates onto the grid in case

4.52pm "We've challenged industries before and we've always overcome and we'll do the same with Formula One," says Richard Branson with a forced smile. "All the drivers who took part in Q3 are supposed to race with the same set of tyres. Wouldn't the other drivers like to go into the race with wet weather tyres as it is almost certain to rain?" They can't swap the same type of tyres but they can switch from slicks to intermediate or wets.

4.49pm Now it's heavy rain, teams scrambling to cover the cars. The track is still set for slicks but if it rains for another five minutes then we will be on intermediates. Trulli's Lotus is back in the garage with the ever-present hydraulic problems and that could be it for him as they take it apart

4.46pm Umbrellas going up as the rain gets heavier. The pits are now closed - 22 cars will start from there with the Virgins beginning from the pit lane

4.45pm Martin emails from New Zealand: "I would have told the Europeans to get out of bed 2 hours earlier and either like it or lump it. I'm sure the true F1 fans would watch it in Europe at any time of the day or night. Living in New Zealand, we watch F1 at all hours of the day and night and it doesnt worry us one iota." It's not the fans so much as the TV companies. They want ratings and they don't get that at 3am. And he who pays the piper …

For those of you with a more than passing interest in the weather in Melbourne, click here for the latest radar pictures

4.40pm And as predicted very light rain is starting to fall. It will get heavier over the next half hour. All the drivers interviewed so far seem to be welcoming the rain, although the ones at the front of the grid will not be sharing that feeling

4.30pm "Wet races are always unpredictable - I think the drivers must be equally concerned about a dark sky (late afternoon race) turning even darker with a rainstorm. Was there any discussion about this hazard during the drivers meeting ? How would the decision to stop or parade behind the safety car, be made ? Driver input or stewards call ?" The decision rests entirely with the stewards, the drivers and teams just have to get on with the task in hand. Half an hour to go and the teams are pushing their cars onto the grid. Click here to send feedback

4.25pm Steve emails from Melbourne, "I noticed your comments on impending rain for Melb. I checked the weather sites and the weather maps look very ominous. I am surprised its not raining already. What is the ruling...if it is too wet or , more importantly too dark, to continue, at what point can they call the race completed?" They can stop the race because of the rain but the brains trust here don't think it's ever been stopped because of the dark. In Malaysia last year the light was definitely a factor that caused them not to resume the race …

4.10pm We are told it will start raining about a quarter of an hour into the race. "Has a race ever been stopped because of bad weather?" asks Sooraj. Yes, many times. The most recent race seriously affected by rain was last year's Malaysian Grand Prix when it was in effect abandoned less than halfway through and half points were awarded.

4.05pm If you want to ask any questions, send us your views or just chat about the weather, click here

3.55pm Good afternoon and welcome to our coverage of the Australian Grand Prix. With a little over an hour to go until the race starts the skies above Albert Park are still grey. The grass in the paddock is damp in the wake of regular drizzle and light rain so far, even though the track surface itself has never been very wet throughout the support races.

But specialist weather forecasters at the track, led by F1's expert service provided by Meteo France, are predicting a high chance of heavy rain around the time of the 5.00pm start. Veteran Rubens Barrichello said on Sunday that he is worried the unlit venue will be "pitch dark" at about 6pm if the weather is bad.

In dry conditions, the 'twilight' race time - designed so that European viewers can watch the race in the early morning rather than the dead of night - upset the drivers in 2009 due to the setting sun. "We raised our concerns but nothing has changed," said Lotus' Jarno Trulli.

Lap 1

Vettel makes a clean start, Massa up to second, Schumacher and Alonso clash. Kubica up to fourth. Webber third. Schumacher has a damaged front wing. Hulkenberg and Toro Rosso of Alguersuari off and out of the race.

Lap 2

Safety car is out and picks up Vettel in the lead. Safety car. It was Button, Alonso and Schumacher that came together at the start coming into the first corner. Kubica made the most of it and Hamilton jumped up to seventh. It was a massive crash at turn three as Kobayashi's wing came off (that happened in practice as well). He then took out Hulkenberg and Alguersuari.

Lap 3

Schumacher pits and is in last place. Nobody else pits as it's still wet on track. Bruno Senna is up to 14th in the HRT, he's a real winner from that first corner melee.

Lap 4

Alonso is 18th so we should see a great display of overtaking from him. Safety car is coming in this lap. "No damage on Fernando's car but the race is compromised," reports Ferrari. That's good news for the race. Correction: it was Buemi's Toro Rosso that crashed out not Alguersuari's.

Lap 5

Vettel leads easily from Massa as the race restarts, Kubica challenges Webber but doesn't get past. Hamilton challenging Button for 6th.

Alonso gets around the outside of Glock for 17th. Senna has stopped on track. Di Grassi pays no respect to Schumacher and gets past him towards the end of the lap!

Lap 6

Hamilton pulls a brilliant move on Button for 6th at turn three. Webber gets past Massa, unseen on the TV footage.

Massa's rear tyres look shot as he comes under attack from Kubica.

Lap 7

Button pits for tyres, that's brave. Lost a second or so as the team struggled to get out in time.

Bruno Senna is out - shame as he was running in 14th. More rain expected in 10 minutes and Button is having a terrible time already on the slicks - race ruined.

Schumacher picks his way past Kovalainen at the back.

Lap 8

Webber closing the gap to Vettel, the German might be preserving those soft intermediate tyres. Alonso moving up the field, gets past Liuzzi.

"Heikki giving Michael a go," chirps Tony Fernandes. "Good boy."

Lap 9

Masses pit from the front. And they're all taking on slicks. Button has set the fastest lap, that's why. But will there be more rain? Both Red Bulls are still out on track.

Button is now bak in it! and challenging Kubica, he's ahead of Hamilton now.

Lap 10

Vettel pits from the lead for slicks. Button is closing on Vettel and could take the lead as Vettel's tyres will be very cold in comparison. Petrov off the track at turn five, the slicks didn't work for him.

Apologies to Button I wrote him off way too early.

Lap 11

Webber drops to sixth after his pit for slicks and then going wide at turn one. Hamilton passes Barrichello for 7th and now is challenging Webber.

Lap 12

Signs of more rain, will it be enough to force them back onto inters? Vettel leads by a second from Button who is 1.8 ahead of Kubica, this is certainly not boring.

Lap 13

Webber now has his tyres up to temperature and is pulling away from Hamilton.

Force India - "Sutil in the pits reporting an engine problem" and the team confirms he has retired.

Alonso up to ninth as he pulls a move on de la Rosa.

Lap 14

Button dropping back, now 2.4 seconds off Vettel. Had Button not gone off on his out lap it would have made it very exciting as he would probably be in the lead.

Alonso gets past Barrichello for eighth. There was nothing the Williams could do, that Ferrari is very fast.

Lap 15

Light rain still falling. It will probably stay with us for the next five minutes. Webber is now closing on Massa for fifth, remember Massa has beeen struggling for tyre temp all weekend.

Lap 16

Webber gets past but immediately comes under pressure from Hamilton. Webber ended up in the gravel at turn three and Hamilton squeezed past. Webber still going, but now back in seventh and will be fuming. He only has himself to blame though.

Lap 17

Vettel now 3.1 seconds ahead at the front. Schumacher struggling to get past Alguersuari for 12th. It's a battle between the oldest and youngest drivers on the grid.

Lap 18

Hamilton is now closing on Massa again for fifth he lost position as Webber came off the track in that earlier battle.

Lap 19

Alonso is now up to seventh and is closing on Hamilton. This could get very exciting indeed. Vettel's lead is now 4.1 seconds.

The battle between 20-year-old Alguersuari and 41-year-old Schumacher is still raging.

Lap 20

Rosberg told to keep up the pace with Massa, Hamilton and Alonso closing. Mercedes also reveals that no more rain is forecast.

Lap 21

Hamilton sliding his car around the track behind Massa. Webber is a second faster than Vettel but back in eighth.

Lap 22

Massa makes a mistake at turn 15 and Hamilton exploits the mistake to pass him into turn one. Massa then went on the attack, cut off Alonso who was then passed by the hard-charging Mark Webber.

Lap 23

Hamilton touched Massa on his way past and a pit of his front wing went flying. But he has now pulled a gap of over a second on the Ferrari.

Lap 24

McLaren came out into the pits as a precaution to replace Hamilton's wing, but the Brit told them there was no need.

And Hamilton is now right on the gearbox of Rosberg and should get past him on the next lap.

Lap 25

Massa making mistakes again in turn 15 and is coming under attack from Webber. Hamilton has a straight line (f-duct) advantage on Rosberg and is biding his time for the perfect opportunity.

He just needs a good exit out of the final corner down the main straight. He is the fastest through the speed trap by 3KPH.

Lap 26

The group is closing up behind Rosberg, Hamilton gets past but comes under attack from Rosberg again. Yellow falg ahead stopping Rosberg. It's Vettel. Vettel is off.

Vettel locked a tyre and ended up in the gravel, it looked like something went wrong with the car.

Lap 27

Button leads. That early tyre stop is looking inspired now despite the mistake on his outlap.

Lap 28

Webber gets past Massa, around the outside into turn 3, great move. Hamilton now challenging Kubica.

Lap 29

Hamilton should pass the Renault with relative ease after getting by the Ferrari and Mercedes. Massa and Alonso squabbling for position, but they don't want to ruin the team's race by crashing into each other.

Lap 30

Hamilton has dropped off Kubica but is visibly quicker down the straight. Button is now pulling out a bigger lead in the knowledge that his team-mate Hamilton might try to attack if and when he passes Kubica.

Lap 31

Vettel had some kind of vibration and was getting ready to come into the pits before he crashed. Hamilton losing time on Button by being stuck behind Kubica, he needs to get past.

Kubica is a very tough competitor and is making no mistakes.

Lap 32

Kubica will not be fooled by Hamilton and the McLaren makes a mistake locking up into turn three. His front right tyre looks in a bad way, he will need to pit at some point soon.

Lap 33

Webber pits for another set of softs. Remember they don't need to use both compounds as they have used inters already. Hamilton tries a move on Kubica through turn 12 but it is so dangerous and tight through there. Maybe he can go around the outside like he did on Rosberg.

Lap 34

Rosberg pits for tyres and battles with Webber coming back on the track ... but loses position to him.

Mike Gascoyne says there will be no rain now for 30 minutes

Lap 35

Hamilton pits for softs and is going to come under pressure from Webber. Hamilton might beat Kubica in the pits on the fresh rubber though.

Lap 36

Button now 10.1 seconds clear at the front. He's looking after his tyres well with his smooth driving style and no pressure from other drivers.

Lap 37

Massa is still ahead of Alonso. As Webber and Hamilton fight hard for third. Hamilton ran wide at turn 13 and Webber came alongside but the Red Bull lost out driving off the dry line.

Lap 38

Kubica pushing still, sets his personal best and does not look concerned about his tyres. Hamilton sets the fastest lap with a 1:28.754, he's pushing so hard on those new tyres.

Lap 39

Vettel admits it was a braking failure. He sounds very disappointed and thought he was on for a win. "It breaks my balls to be honest." Hamilton is two seconds faster than Button, is Button trying to make it to the end on those tyres?

Lap 40

It's turning into a Senna vs Prost style battle between the two McLarens. Great stuff. Hamilton sets another fastest lap but is 32.2 seconds down the road from Button. A pit stop will take longer than usual here because the speed limit has been reduced to 60kph. If Jenson pits it could be very close - a pit stop should take 26 seconds in total.

Lap 41

Di Grassi in the Virgin is back out - "clipped a Lotus air line". Button really should pit, maybe McLaren is expecting rain and wants to keep its options open.

Lap 42

Button's gap to Kubica is 14.2s and 30.2 to to Hamilton. Kubica is coming under attack from Massa and Alonso as well.

Lap 43

If Button pits he may sacrafice the lead to Kubica, Massa and Alonso (if they don't pit) and it then rains meaning everyone has to bit for inters.

Lap 44

Hamilton is still taking chunks of time out of the top four.

Jarno Trulli had hydraulic issue report Lotus. "Same issue other Cosworth new teams are having "

Hamilton told he will catch the Ferraris and that they may not pit despite their tyres being very old.

Lap 45

Alonso still struggling behind Massa. Webber sets the fastest lap, he is 1.1 seconds off the back of Hamilton.

Lap 46

Button leads Kubica by 15.8 with 12 laps to go. If Button can save his tyres and it doesn't rain the race is his. Alonso makes a big mistake, his rear tyres are in a bad way and Hamilton should pass him with ease when he catches up.

Lap 47

Remember, Button has been on the same tyres since his early pit stop, longer than anyone else. They've also taken a dip in the gravel. Nevertheless, he is a master of looking after rubber.

Lap 48

Webber is still setting fastest laps behind Hamilton.

Lap 49

Hamilton now 1.5 seconds off Alonso. Kubica is edging away from the Ferraris but he will also come under attack from Hamilton if (probably when) he gets past Alonso and Massa.

Lap 50

Massa holds a lurid slide, quite incredible driving but has lost lots of time. Hamilton right on the gearbox of Ferrari. Don't forget to use the f-duct Lewis.

Lap 51

Button looks locked on for the win, now 17.4 seconds ahead of Kubica. Hamilton has such a big advantage down the back straight but can't get past into the fast turn 12, 13 chicane.

Lap 52

Webber hanging back and analysing the situation ahead of him. Alonso is going to give a school in defensive driving here.

Lap 53

Hamilton comes over the radio saying his tyre have gone off. This changes everything. Surely they can't be as bad as Alonso's? The Ferrari hasn't pitted, Hamilton has but has been running the Bridgestones off the rims to catch him over the last few laps.

Lap 54

Hamilton is still close to Alonso but the Spaniard is braking early and taking the pressure well. Webber is still watching from a safe distance.

Lap 55

Hamilton so much faster down the straight but needs to be closer out of the final corner. Schumacher bangs wheels with Alguersuari to pass him through the final corner.

Lap 56

Hamilton sending out angry signals and has a few choice words with his team over the radio. He's all over Alonso like a raging wasp ... and Webber hits Hamilton and the two of them skid off the track ... they both keep their engines running but Webber's front wing is off

Lap 57

Webber limps into the pits for a new wing ...he looked to be at fault there as Hamilton was attacking Alonso, Hamilton continuing in sixth but that's as good as it will get for him. Schumacher into the points into tenth. Button just has to keep going, proving all of us who said his race was over when he was called in for an early tyre change wrong.

Lap 58

Button takes the flag from John Travolta and the world champion is back. Kubica comes in second, with Alonso leading home the two Ferraris, Rosberg in fifth and a livid Hamilton in sixth. Tonio Liuzzi in seventh. "Yeh, that feels so good," yelps Button. "Guys, fantastic job, congraulations to everyone."

Button is understandably ecstatic. "I thought I'd made a catastrophic decision," admits Button. "But it was the right call." "He called that first stop and got us the win," says a tearful Martin Whitmarsh. All of us said it was a mistake but he proved us all wrong. Hamilton looks like thunder: "I drove my heart out and deserved better." Asked if his team were at fault he says: "The guys always do a great job but the strategy wasn't right." A great finish in seventh for Tonio Liuzzi in the Force India - read his race review here on Tuesday.