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.
James Rodriguez to Real Madrid: Would Colombian star fit in with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale?
William Carvalho to Arsenal? Gunners make new enquiry for £35m rated midfielder
Manchester United transfer news: More signings expected, indicates Ed Woodward
WWE Battleground 2014 results: John Cena and The Miz are the big winners on a night to forget in Tampa, Florida
Chelsea transfer news: Completed summer deals - including Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas
- 1 Husband creates spreadsheet detailing wife's 'excuses' for turning down sex
- 2 Apple has installed security backdoors on 600m iPhones and iPads, claims security researcher
- 3 Saneie Masilela, 9, marries Helen Shabangu, 53 years his senior, for the second time
- 4 UK pirates will get four warning letters a year
- 5 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains