Radio Sandwell Sport

Lewis Hamilton on Australian Grand Prix pole position

2017-03-25 09:01:34

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton won a tight battle for pole position between Mercedes and Ferrari at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Hamilton took pole position by 0.268 seconds as Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel joined him on the front row.

The German pipped Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas by just 0.025secs as the new era of faster, more demanding cars got off to a promising start.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen took fourth ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

A real battle in store

The tightness of the battle in qualifying between Mercedes and Ferrari is what was expected after pre-season testing but an impressive performance by Mercedes on Friday led to fears the world champions may dominate again.

But Ferrari were in much better shape on Saturday and gave every sign they will be able to push Mercedes hard this season, as testing had promised.

Vettel was fastest in final practice and the red cars were in the mix from the start of qualifying.

Sebastian VettelVettel secured first place in the final practice session

A slightly scruffy final lap from Bottas might have stopped him joining his team-mate on the front row but even so the margins were right and a fair bit of Hamilton's advantage may well have been in the driver on a circuit on which the three-time champion has always excelled.

Bottas, though, was impressive in his debut for Mercedes, qualifying closer to Hamilton than his former team-mate Nico Rosberg did at this race last year.

Hamilton on top form

In truth, pole position always looked like it was Hamilton's to lose from the moment he took to the track in Friday's first practice.

Seemingly intent on laying down a marker for Bottas, Hamilton was flying from the start, the car dancing through the tricky chicanes around the demanding Albert Park track.

He ended the day half a second clear of the field, with Bottas and Vettel again separated by tiny fractions, and although Hamilton's margin was reduced in qualifying, the fundamental pattern remained.

Lewis Hamilton

The 32-year-old still has much to do, however. There are new rules governing starts this year which have put control much more back in the drivers' hands and have therefore increased the possibility of errors.

And it will be a demanding race in pretty much the fastest cars ever raced in F1, following rule changes over the winter, and on tyres on which the drivers can push flat out for the entire race for pretty much the first time in six years.

Daniel RicciardoRicciardo crashed out on his home race and will start in 10th

Nico RosbergThe reigning champion tweeted that he was keeping an eye on the proceedings

Sebastian Vettel

Source: bbc.co.uk

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