World champion Lewis Hamilton grabbed pole position for the Australian Grand Prix by six-tenths of a second from Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg on Saturday.
Hamilton set the pace with 1min 26.419sec midway through the final qualifying shoot-out and he lowered the time to 1:26.327 in the final seconds.
Williams’ Felipe Massa was third fastest followed by Sebastien Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen in the two Ferraris, while home favourite Daniel Ricciardo was seventh for Red Bull.
McLaren, who struggled pre-season and have Fernando Alonso out after a crash in testing, suffered a nightmare outing with Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen at the back of the grid.
Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso), Romain Grosjean (Lotus) and Pastor Maldonado (Lotus) filled out the top 10.
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 14, 2015
Dutch teenager Max Verstappen, set to become the youngest ever Formula One driver at 17 years and 166 days in Sunday’s race, was among the five drivers eliminated in Q2.
Verstappen, driving a Toro Rosso, finished 12th fastest and missed out along with Sauber’s Felipe Nasr, Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat and Force India pair Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez.
After Sauber’s legal turmoil this week, finally resolved when Giedo van der Garde gave up his seat despite a court ruling in his favour, Nasr got to within 0.076sec of Q3.
The struggling McLarens of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen both failed to make Q2 after finishing 16th and 17th in the first stage and will start on the back row of the race grid.
— MERCEDES AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) March 14, 2015
Button, a three-time Australian Grand Prix winner, was a substantial 2.836sec off the pace, emphasising the McLaren’s problems since their incomplete off-season testing.
The last time Button qualified as low as 17th was at the 2010 Malaysian Grand Prix.
The McLarens were behind the Sauber pair of Nasr and Marcus Ericsson. Brazil’s Nasr scraped into the last spot in Q2 ahead of his team-mate Ericsson.
The Manor pair of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi, who were unable to take part in practice as the new team gets on its feet, did not take part in qualifying.