Australian Grand Prix 2017 - what time does Sunday's Formula One race start, what TV channel is it on and who was fastest in qualifying?

Telegraph Sport
Home favourite Daniel Ricciardo, here pictured the 2014 Australian GP - Getty Images Sport

When is it?

It's Sunday, March 26.

What time does the race start?

The scheduled start time is 6:00am BST.

What TV channel can I watch it on?

Sky Sports F1 is the only broadcaster showing the Australian race live, though Channel 4 will still show free-to-air highlights.

Australian Grand Prix 2017 pictures - celebrities, sports stars and all the best F1 action from Melbourne

What happened in qualfying?

Lewis Hamilton delivered an emphatic performance to stave off a resurgent Ferrari and claim pole position.

Sebastian Vettel, who could very well prove to be Hamilton's closest challenger this year, will line up alongside the Mercedes driver in a tantalising front row, with Valtteri Bottas - the Finn who has replaced reigning champion Nico Rosberg - in third.

Kimi Raikkonen was a distant fourth, while home favourite Daniel Ricciardo dramatically crashed out of qualifying after he lost control of his Red Bull and smashed into the tyre barrier.

The Formula One rulebook has a new look to it this season in a bid to spice up the show and disturb the established order dominated by Mercedes for the past three seasons.

Daniel Ricciardo with model Brooke Hogan Credit: GETTY IMAGES

The cars are faster, wider and appear more aggressive, but while Ferrari, who failed to register a single victory last season, are certainly closer to Mercedes, there is simply no stopping Hamilton when he is in this kind of mood.

The 32-year-old, who is bidding to become the first British driver to win a quartet of titles, was 0.268 seconds faster than Vettel after recording the fastest lap ever seen in these parts. Bottas was marginally slower than the Ferrari man.

It marked Hamilton's 62nd career pole - three behind Ayrton Senna and six adrift of Michael Schumacher in the all-time list.

The home crowd had hoped Ricciardo would be in the mix, too, but he crashed at turn 14 and failed to post a time in the final phase. It means he starts 10th, with Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen fifth.

McLaren arrived in Australia on the back of an awful winter of testing plagued by a slow and unreliable Honda engine. There were real concerns that the British team would be propping up the grid here, so they will take some encouragement from Fernando Alonso making it out of Q1. He will line up 14th on Sunday.

Final positions after qualifying:

1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1min 22.188secs
2 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1:22.456
3 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP 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 F1 1:24.074
7 Felipe Massa (Bra) Williams 1:24.443
8 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:24.487
9 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:24.512
10 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull No Time
11 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India 1:25.081
12 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault 1:25.091
13 Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren 1:25.425
14 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Force India 1:25.568
15 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber-Ferrari 1:26.465
16 Antonio Giovinazzi (Ita) Sauber-Ferrari 1:26.419
17 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 1:26.847
18 Stoffel Vandoorne (Bel) McLaren 1:26.858
19 Lance Stroll (Can) Williams 1:27.143
20 Jolyon Palmer (Gbr) Renault 1:28.244


















Note:Lance Stroll has a five-place grid penalty due to a gearbox change after Third Practice.

What are they saying?

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes

Valtteri Bottas was hired on a one-season contract as a late replacement for the retiring world champion Nico Rosberg Credit: OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty

I don't fear that I will be the number two at Mercedes.

Mercedes do not have a number one, or a number two driver, so it is up to me to perform. As long as I do my job, which is to perform on the level where the car should be, we are all good and I know I can do it.

I am very excited about going up against Lewis. He is a three-time world champion and a great reference point. Everybody knows exactly how good he is as a driver.

In testing we managed to work well together and there was a good team spirit. I see no reason why it should not continue like that.

Toto Wolff, Mercedes executive director

Can Mercedes maintain their dominance after the big regulations overhaul this winter? Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty 

We have been very successful over the last three years through stable rules – but no team has ever maintained its success over such a big regulation change before.

In a way, it's just what the doctor ordered. To have such a challenge is good for the team.

We have done the best job we possibly could over the winter and, if we are not the fastest in Melbourne, then it's about finding out why and what needs to be done to get us back to that top spot.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton is hoping to reclaim the title he won previously in 2016, 2015 and 2008 Credit: Dan Istitene/Getty 

I think Ferrari are bluffing and that they are a lot quicker than they are showing.

They're very close to us. It's difficult right now to say exactly who is quicker. But they are very close, if not faster.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari driver

Sebastian Vettel will hope Ferrari's early-season promise will not fade as it did in 2016 Credit: Francisco Seco/AP

I think we are better prepared than last year, we did more laps.

I think overall the team is in a better shape. I think we learned a lot from last year, and I think last year was the most important year for us.

Even if you look at the results you say it was not such a successful one, but I think what happened in the background was really, really important to make a step forward, and hopefully we’ve done that. But I don’t think we’ll get a proof or have a real idea until Melbourne or the first couple of races.

 

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What are the latest betting odds?

To win the 2017 drivers title:

  • Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) - EVENS
  • Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) - 7/2
  • Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) - 5/1
  • Max Verstappen (Red Bull) - 17/2
  • Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) - 8/1
  • Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) - 9/1
  • Felipe Massa (Williams) - 200/1
  • Fernando Alonso (McLaren-Honda) - 300/1
2016 champion Nico Rosberg (left) has retired, leaving the drivers' crown undefended Credit: Clive Mason/Getty 

To win the Australian Grand Prix:

  • Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) - 5/4
  • Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) - 10/3
  • Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) - 11/2
  • Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) - 7/1
  • Max Verstappen (Red Bull) - 10/1
  • Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) - 10/1
Michael Schumacher won the 2000 edition en route to his third world title Credit: Rick Rycroft/AP

To be the first retirement of the season:

  • Fernando Alonso (McLaren-Honda) - 8/1
  • Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren-Honda) - 8/1
  • Carlos Sainz Jr (Toro Rosso) - 14/1
  • Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) - 14/1
  • Jolyon Palmer (Renault) - 16/1
  • Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) - 16/1
Fernando Alonso retired from the 2016 race after a terrifying crash at turn three, suffering only minor injuries but having to sit out the next race Credit: ALEX COPPEL/AFP/Getty

Prediction

Let's be incredibly negative and say the rule shake-up will have made no difference to the established order in F1.

Mercedes to cruise to victory, Hamilton edging Bottas while he still finds his feet, with Ferrari a 'strong' second-best.

Who do you think will win? Tell us below.

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