Hamilton takes pole at Melbourne
Saturday 17 March 2012
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix today ahead of team mate Jenson Button as world champion Sebastian Vettel was banished to the third row of the grid.
The Briton's best lap of one minute 24.922 seconds put him just ahead of compatriot and fellow former world champion Button, who was second quickest in 1.25.074 and will make up an all-McLaren front row for the first time since 2009.
French driver Romain Grosjean sprung the biggest surprise by steering his Lotus to the third fastest lap and he will line up alongside the Mercedes of seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher on the second row.
Vettel, who claimed a record 15 pole positions last season including on his way to victory at Albert Park, was sixth fastest just behind his Red Bull team mate and Australia's great hope Mark Webber in fifth.
It was a major setback for a team that took 18 poles in 19 races last year and tomorrow will mark the first time they will not have a driver on the front row since the 2010 Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
"It's an incredible feeling to be back here and to get off to such a good start," said Hamilton, who won at Albert Park from pole position in 2008.
"I think it's my and Jenson's first one-two in qualifying so it's fantastic to start the season this way. It's going to be incredibly tight and tense in the race."
Button was equally delighted to lock up the front row for McLaren for the first time since Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen at the 2009 European Grand Prix.
"It is only the beginning but this is great first result for us on a Saturday and it looks like it's going to be a very exciting season," Button, who won in Melbourne in 2009 and 2010, said.
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg and Pastor Maldonado of Williams will be on the fourth row of the grid after finishing seventh and eighth quickest.
Ferrari's problems continued with both cars failing to reach the final round of qualifying.
Former world champion Fernando Alonso spun off into the gravel in the second session while running fifth fastest and will line up 12th on the grid, while Brazialian Felipe Massa's miserable run of form continued with the 16th fastest time.
Another former world champion, Kimi Raikkonen, failed to get through the first phase of qualifying on his return to Formula One after two years away.
The 32-year-old Finn lost control of his Lotus on a corner on his final flying lap and will line up in 18th place on the ninth row of the grid for tomorrow's race, barring any penalties for other drivers.
The former Sauber, McLaren and Ferrari driver also suffered the embarrassment of being resoundingly outqualified by the inexperienced Grosjean, who has never raced at Albert Park and will be starting his eighth race tomorrow.
The two HRT cars both failed to get inside 107 percent of the best time in the first session and therefore failed to qualify for the race for the second successive year.
How Liverpool can catch Manchester United and secure Champions League football next season
Arsenal transfer news: Arsene Wenger reveals: 'We are not close to signing anybody. We need to lose some players'
Danny Jones: Keighley Cougars half-back dies after cardiac arrest during league game
Chelsea season player ratings: Grading the entire squad of the new Premier League champions
Which celebrities were ringside in Las Vegas to watch Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao?
- 5 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils