IN PICS: Hamilton secures Aus GP pole

Sport360 staff 25/03/2017

Triple world champion Lewis Hamilton will start off the pole in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix after winning qualifying on Saturday.

Hamilton in a Mercedes clocked a record lap of one minute 22.188 seconds to take his 62nd career pole and sixth in Australia into Sunday’s race in Melbourne.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was second with Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas third.

Hamilton has been on pole in Melbourne in each of the last four seasons, and in five out the 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.”

He was pushed in the final Q3 stage first by Bottas and then by Vettel before clinching the fastest lap.

“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 2015 in knocking Bottas out of second place.

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.”

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LIVE: Australian Grand Prix FP3 and Qualifying

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Who will claim a first pole of the season?

Lewis Hamilton bossed First Practice on day one in Melbourne as Mercedes scored an early blow over rivals Ferrari.

But the duel at the top is sure to gather pace, and quickly.

Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel will likely vie at the top of the pack, but don’t rule out either driver’s team-mates or those in other cars in what is expected to be one of the closest seasons in recent memory.

So, who will score a first pole of the season?

You can find out by first tuning into our live coverage of FP3 [7am GST] and then the all-important Qualifying [9am GST] with our leaderboard and commentary below.

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Vettel untroubled by gap with Mercedes

F1i 24/03/2017
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Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel ended Friday with a sizeable deficit to front-runner Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes, but says he is confident he “can do something” to challenge the leading Silver Arrows.

The Ferrari driver was Hamilton’s closest rival on Pirelli’s ultra-soft compound, but at a fair distance unfortunately with a 0.547s gap.

But the German is optimistic that more speed shall be extracted from his SF70H before tomorrow’s running gets underway.

“Overall [the first day has] been OK, but we had some small troubles during first practice, which cost us some track time, so ,it took a bit longer to get into the groove,” Vettel said.

“My car doesn’t feel as good as it should or can, so I’m confident we can do something.”

In reference once again to Ferrari’s pre-season testing form and Lewis Hamilton’s claims that he was playing his cards close to his chest, Vettel discarded any rival chatter.

“Obviously we’ve been very happy at testing, times look good, but it doesn’t mean anything when you come here and that’s when it matters, I think we were realistic about that.

“As I said today was OK, I think the car feels good. It hasn’t changed much, I mean it’s only two weeks ago we got out of the car but it’s good to be back here and as I said we can still improve.”

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