Supreme Hamilton Leads Mercedes Front Row In Australia

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The first qualifying session of the new F1 season ended with a familiar face leading as Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Australian Grand Prix. His time of 1:26.327 was almost six tenths faster than the quickest time that team-mate Nico Rosberg could manage for second. Felipe Massa starts the race for Williams in third.

The first pole of the season is the thirty ninth of Lewis Hamilton’s career. He is approaching Sebastian Vettel’s current total of 45 poles and with the gap from Hamilton to the nearest non-Mercedes a large 1.4 seconds, it is possible that Hamilton can get ahead of Vettel this season to become the leading pole-sitter of currently active drivers in the sport.

Hamilton was delighted with his efforts and praised the team for giving the machinery in which pole was possible.

“Today we found a good balance and today was about pushing those laps,” he said.

“It is so much fun when you get into qualifying. I’m massively grateful for all the work that has gone in.”

“It is not that it isn’t important, but last year I didn’t have a good first race and it wasn’t the end of the world,” he said.

“The plan tomorrow is to have a better start to the season.”

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Nico Rosberg admitted that he wasn’t quick enough to displace his team-mate but was still confident that he can turn the tables in the race.

“First of all Lewis was on impressive form today, he did an awesome job and nailed it all the time,”

“The speed was there, I just didn’t get it together today. I’m not worried about pace at all, to be honest.

“In the long runs, my pace was very strong so hopefully it can be the other way around tomorrow.”

“P2, I have to live with that today. It’s still a long day tomorrow.”

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Felipe Massa was realistic as he acknowledged the wide gap between the Williams and Mercedes but remarked that the gap could be closed with the right development. The Brazilian also said that the fight for the final podium place was likely to be close between Williams and Ferrari.

“It’s not great to see this difference but we keep working, we keep fighting and I hope that we can get as close as we can,” said Massa after qualifying.

“They are in a different category to the others. We are working to try to bring as many upgrades as possible – this is definitely just the start.

“We need to try and repeat the development that we did last year, but even more intense.”

“The fight is really tough with Ferrari,” he said. “It won’t be easy – definitely the race is against Ferrari.

“They are really strong, they made a big step forward compared to last year.

“I’m sure tomorrow we need to be a bit more worried about Ferrari, but we need to keep our eyes open for the others.

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Sebastian Vettel managed to finish fourth in his first qualifying session for Ferrari but admitted he could have achieved more on his debut with the Scuderia.

“Felipe nailed the lap. I think it was in reach on the first set, and ideally it should have been a bit quicker, but it wasn’t,” he said.

“That was down to me. The second shot in terms of strategy we could have done things differently, but all in all it was a very good result to have both cars in the top five.”

Daniel Ricciardo was glum in his assessment of Red Bull’s race hopes as he qualified seventh, a result he says was the best possible this weekend.

“I normally try to have not that many expectations, but your expectations change a bit knowing Mercedes are two seconds quicker at the moment,” he said.

“We can’t realistically expect to be on pole or fight for the win tomorrow, all things being equal.

“I think considering how it’s been all weekend it was definitely better [in qualifying] but it’s still a long way off where we need to be.”

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Jenson Button was optimistic despite a nightmare qualifying for McLaren and new engine suppliers Honda.. The Briton finished qualifying one position from last in seventeenth place, one position ahead of his team-mate Kevin Magnussen who brings up the rear in eighteenth. Button said that he knew it would be tough due to a difficult pre-season but could find hope in the future.

“It is going to be a big learning day for us,” he said. “Would I rather be in a car that is maximised and just in the points, or would I rather be where we are?

“I would rather be where we are – knowing there is a lot to come and finetuning that car, or moulding that car, into something that can be very good in the future.

“It will be a tough day tomorrow, a big learning curve – the longest run we have done is 12 laps.

“It is all new, but hopefully we can react well.”

Australian GP Grid

Pos Driver Car Time Gap
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m26.327s
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m26.921s 0.594s
3 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m27.718s 1.391s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m27.757s 1.430s
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m27.790s 1.463s
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m28.087s 1.760s
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m28.329s 2.002s
8 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso/Renault 1m28.510s 2.183s
9 Romain Grosjean Lotus/Mercedes 1m28.560s 2.233s
10 Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Mercedes 1m29.480s 3.153s
11 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1m28.800s
12 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso/Renault 1m28.868s
13 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull/Renault 1m29.070s
14 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m29.208s
15 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m29.209s
16 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m31.376s
17 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1m31.422s
18 Kevin Magnussen McLaren/Honda 1m32.037s
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