Hamilton clinches blistering pole, but Vettel splits Mercedes

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton clinched pole position from Sebastian Vettel at the Australian Grand Prix after a dramatic qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton claimed a record-equalling sixth Australian Grand Prix pole after a dramatic qualifying in Melbourne on Saturday.

The Mercedes driver's time of one minute, 22.188 seconds saw him equal the great Ayrton Senna for most poles in Australia.

However, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel – who topped third practice – managed to split Hamilton and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas with a late flyer of his own.

Sunday will mark a first front-row start for Ferrari since Singapore in 2015, but Hamilton appears set to be hard to beat.

The Brit's time was more than a second and a half quicker than the one he set to claim pole in Melbourne last year, the result of new regulations which are likely to see a similar story throughout 2017.

Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) will start from fourth, ahead of Max Verstappen (Red Bull), Romain Grosjean (Haas), Felipe Massa (Williams), Toro Rosso pair Carlos Sainz Jr and Daniil Kvyat and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo.

Ricciardo, the local hope, was unable to set a time in Q3 after sliding off at turn 14, bringing out a red flag, and he could face a grid drop if he requires a gearbox change.

Antonio Giovinazzi, who replaces Pascal Wehrlein for the rest of the weekend at Sauber, qualified 16th fastest, while Williams rookie Lance Stroll will start last after he crashed in FP3, which prompted a change of gearbox and grid-place penalty.

 

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes): 1:22.188secs
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari): 1:22.456s
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes): 1:22.481s
4. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari): 1:23.033s
5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull): 1:23.485s
6. Romain Grosjean (Haas): 1:24.074s
7. Felipe Massa (Williams): 1:24.443s
8. Carlos Sainz Jr (Toro Rosso): 1:24.487s
9. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso): 1:24.512s
10. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)

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