Melbourne - Triple
world champion Lewis Hamilton fought off late bids from Sebastian
Vettel and team-mate Valtteri Bottas to seize pole position in the
season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.
Hamilton in a Mercedes clocked a record lap of one minute 22.188
seconds to claim his 62nd career pole and his sixth in Australia into
Sunday's race 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
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen took fourth ahead of Red Bull's Max
Verstappen, while Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo crashed out in the final
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, 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's pole time was 1.7 seconds quicker than his qualifying time last year.
"Third position is not ideal," Bottas said.
"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."
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."
Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon and
Marcus Ericsson all failed to make it through the top 10 shootout.
“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.
Vandoorne was joined by Antonio Giovinazzi, Kevin Magnussen, Lance
Stroll and Jolyon Palmer to be eliminated in the first session of
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.
Qualifying results from the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on Saturday:
1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) 1:22.188
2. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Ferrari) 1:22.456
3. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Mercedes) 1:22.481
4. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Ferrari) 1:23.033
5. Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull) 1:23.485
6. Romain Grosjean (FRA/Haas) 1:24.074
7. Felipe Massa (BRA/Williams) 1:24.443
8. Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/Toro Rosso) 1:24.487
9. Daniil Kvyat (RUS/Toro Rosso) 1:24.512
10. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Red Bull) DNF
Eliminated in Q2:
11. Sergio Perez (MEX/Force India)
12. Nico Hulkenberg (GER/Renault)
13. Fernando Alonso (ESP/McLaren)
14. Esteban Ocon (FRA/Force India)
15. Marcus Ericsson (SWE/Sauber)
Eliminated in Q1:
16. Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA/Sauber)
17. Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Haas)
18. Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL/McLaren)
19. Lance Stroll (CAN/Williams)
20. Jolyon Palmer (GBR/Renault)