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Australian GP qualifying

Lewis Hamilton takes pole in Australian GP

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the F1 season-opening Australian GP, despite late efforts from Vettel in the Ferrari and teammate Bottas.
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Lewis Hamilton con el Mercedes en Australia.
Robert CianfloneGetty Images

Triple world champion Lewis Hamilton fought off late bids from Sebastian Vettel and team-mate Valtteri Bottas to grab pole position in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Hamilton takes pole in Australia
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Hamilton takes pole in AustraliaTRACEY NEARMYEFE

Hamilton: pole position

Hamilton, in the Mercedes, clocked a record lap of one minute 22.188 seconds to claim his 62nd career pole and his sixth in Australia for Sunday's F1 curtain raiser in Melbourne.

Ferrari's Vettel made a valiant late bid to snatch pole off Hamilton but finished just 0.268secs down, although fractionally quicker than Bottas. 

Top three qualifiers: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP, Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari and Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Mercedes GP.
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Top three qualifiers: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP, Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari and Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Mercedes GP.Mark ThompsonGetty Images

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen took fourth ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen, while Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo crashed out in the final Q3 session.

Hamilton's fourth Melboure pole in a row 

It was dominant Hamilton's fourth successive pole in Melbourne and his fifth in his last six Australian GPs.

"It's been a fantastic weekend so far. I'm incredibly proud of my team," Hamilton said. "Valtteri did a great job and it's great for us as Mercedes. It's going to be a tight race. Tomorrow is about putting all the work together and making sure I come back stronger than ever."

Hamilton chasing third Melbourne triumph 

Hamilton, who finished runner-up by just five points in last season's titanic world championship battle with now-retired team-mate Nico Rosberg, will be chasing his third win in Melbourne.

Vettel gave promise of fighting for Ferrari's first win in Melbourne since Kimi Raikkonen's victory in 2007, with his bold showing.

"I lost a bit in turn one and in turn nine I tried a bit too much, but I don't think it would have been enough," said Vettel, who claimed Ferrari's first front row since Singapore in 2015. I wasn't entirely happy with my lap but I don't think pole was up for grabs. Tomorrow we can do something in the race. I'm looking forward to it. People are fired up and we're motivated."

Hamilton outgunned last year's time

Hamilton's pole time was 1.7 seconds quicker than his qualifying time last year, but the British driver's team-mate Bottas was not happy at his run: "Third position is not ideal." "In general I'm not happy for the result. But I'm proud of what the team has done. I only saw a very small part of the preparation and it's nice to see the work has pulled off and we're fighting at the front."

Aussie hope Ricciardo crashes out 

Australia's big hope Ricciardo crashed his Red Bull at turn 14 looking to post a good time in Q3 and will start 10th off the grid.

Ricciardo damaged the rear of his RB13 car and was heard over the team radio as saying: "I'm alright... sorry guys."

The final session of qualifying was suspended while Ricciardo's car was removed from the gravel alongside the track.

"I'm physically OK, but emotionally it's tough. At least (the crash) didn't happen in Q1," Ricciardo told reporters. "I would have loved to be (in the) top five rather than 10th."

Fernando Alonso not in top 10

Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon and Marcus Ericsson all failed to make it through the top 10 shootout.

Fernando Alonso in the McLaren Honda
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Fernando Alonso in the McLaren HondaRobert CianfloneGetty Images

"After the difficulties we encountered in winter testing, we came to Melbourne without a clear idea of where we stood," Alonso said of his troubled McLaren Honda. "But we've more or less run through all the sessions without trouble -- which is better than we'd expected. Tomorrow we'll start 13th -- in the middle of the pack -- which is definitely not our target. Finishing the race is going to be tough."

Red Bull's Max Verstappen had a lock-up into turn six on ultrasoft tyres before he posted a time to stay alive into Q2.

McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne had a fuel-flow issue which sent the Belgian to the pits and knocked out in Q1.

Q1 eliminations

Vandoorne was joined by Antonio Giovinazzi, Kevin Magnussen, Lance Stroll and Jolyon Palmer to be eliminated in the first session of qualifying.

Giovinazzi is making his F1 debut after replacing Williams team-mate Pascal Wehrlein, who has not sufficiently recovered from a back injury sustained in a pre-season crash. 

Aussie GP qualifying results.

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