Rosberg fastest and Maldonado eliminated in first and only qualifying session of the day.
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA (MARCH 16, 2013)(FOM) - Qualifying for the season-opening Australian Formula One Grand Prix will be completed before the race after heavy rain forced the postponement of the final two sections on Saturday (March 16).
The 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 (March 17).
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.
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 10th quickest time.
That set the trend for the session as car after car spun off and bits of wreckage littered the track.
Qualifying session 1 from the Formula One Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park - qualifying sessions 2 and 3 will take place on Sunday March 17
8. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1:44.688
10. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 1:45.456
11. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Lotus - Renault 1:45.545
15. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams - Renault 1:47.328
17. Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams - Renault 1:47.614
20. Max Chilton (Britain) Marussia - Cosworth 1:48.909
21. Giedo van der Garde (Netherlands) Caterham - Renault 1:49.519
22. Charles Pic (France) Caterham - Renault 1:50.626