Australian Grand Prix 2015: Lewis Hamilton claims pole position for Mercedes with Nico Rosberg second

Hamilton goes into the 2015 F1 season as world champion

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The Independent Online

Lewis Hamilton has claimed pole position for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix in the first qualifying session of the 2015 season.

The world champion, seeking victory in Melbourne for the first time since 2008, put in a dominant performance to finish his lap over half a second faster than his nearest competitor, Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg.

This was the British driver’s 39th pole of her career and his fourth at Albert Park. Last year Hamilton won pole here but the race ultimately went to Rosberg.

Felipe Massa, driving for Williams, put in a strong lap to start Sunday’s race from third on the grid.

Hamilton's pole was the 49th of a career that has already seen him win two world championships

The fact that he was nearly a second and a half slower than Hamilton though is ominous for those hoping for the Constructor's Championship to be anything other than a one horse race.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikonnen were 4th and 5th.

Hamilton, speaking at the post-qualifying press conference, said: “It has been a great start to the weekend. It doesn’t feel like a long time since the last race. We found a good balance today and it was just about pushing those laps.”

Rosberg admitted that Hamilton had “absolutely nailed it” before adding: “For me it wasn’t too good today but I am thankful to the team for the car that they have given me. It really is a pleasure to drive.”

Perhaps the most surprising story of the day was both McLaren drivers failing to qualify for the second stage.

Drivers Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button will start at the back of the grid, as the Manor team were unable to run and will play no part in the race, in what was a terrible day for team that has won more Australian Grand Prix’s (12) than any other.

Dutch driver Guido van der Garde dropped legal action against the Sauber team just prior to qualifying, allowing Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr to race. There had been farcical scenes in the team’s garage before a practice session of Friday when the driver appeared in race overralls expecting a drive.

Van der Garde signed a contract to race for Sauber in 2015 last summer however the team later agreed terms with Nasr and Ericsson. Van der Garde said: “My management will continue talks with Sauber early next week to find a mutually acceptable solution for the current situation.”

The grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix runs:

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 1:26.327

2. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) – 1:26.921

3. Felipe Massa (Williams) – 1:27.718

4. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) – 1:27.757

5. Kimi Raikonnen (Ferrari) – 1:27.790

6. Valterri Bottas (Williams) – 1:28.087

7. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) – 1:28.329

8. Carlos Sainz (Torro Rosso) – 1:28.510

9. Romain Grosjean (Lotus) – 1:28.560

10. Pastor Maldonado (Lotus) – 1:29.480

11. Felipe Nasr (Sauber) – 1:28.800

12. Max Verstappen (Torro Rosso) – 1:28.868

13. Daniil Kvyat (Red Bull) – 1:29.070

14. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) – 1:29.208

15. Sergio Perez (Force India) – 1:29.209

16. Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) – 1:31.376

17. Jenson Button (McLaren) – 1:31.422

18. Kevin Magnussen (McLaren) – 1:32.037