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Hamilton takes pole position ahead of Formula One season opener

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Melbourne:  Mercedes racer Lewis Hamilton on Saturday secured the 62nd pole position of his Formula One career in the qualifying session for the season’s first Grand Prix, the Australian GP here on Sunday.

Three-time world champion Hamilton posted a time of 1:22:188, which he secured in the final seconds of the third qualifying session, ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas, reports Efe.

Hamilton said “Valtteri has done a great job and it is great for Mercedes. It is close between us all and it will be a tight race”.

Hamilton’s relationship with his new teammate will be under the microscope in the coming weeks after last season’s tense rivalry with his former teammate Nico Rosberg, who took the driver’s championship by the narrowest of margins at the season’s closing Grand Prix.

Vettel’s teammate, Finland’s Kimi Raikkonen was placed fourth with France’s Romain Grosjean of Haas, Williams’ Brazilian Felipe Massa and Spaniard Carlos Sainz of Toro Rosso following.

Vettel’s result was in keeping with pre-season predictions, and the German was positive in the post-session press conference.

“We have a good car, we are working well as a team and things are improving”, Vettel said.

“We had a mixed day yesterday but the confidence in the car was there from testing and we showed that today. I think we can do something in the race tomorrow.”

The qualifying session was interrupted by the red flag after local favourite Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull spun off the track at turn 14 in Q3, meaning he posted a disappointing 10th place position on the starting grid.

Former world champion Fernando Alonso was unable to qualify in his McClaren, finishing 13th in the second qualifying session.

Sergio Perez, Niko Hulkenberg and Marcus Ericsson were also eliminated in the second qualifying session.

IANS

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