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Hamilton fourth on his qualifying debut 17 Mar 2007

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 17 March 2007

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton put in a faultless performance in his first Formula One qualifying session on Saturday. Hamilton trailed world champion team mate Fernando Alonso by less than three-tenths of a second as he secured fourth place on the Melbourne grid.

The 22-year-old Briton had finished ahead of Alonso in two of the three practice sessions preceding qualifying and his pace forced the Spaniard to dig deep in order to qualify ahead of his rookie colleague.

"I'm overwhelmed to be on the second row for my first Grand Prix,” said Hamilton. “This weekend is what I have been preparing myself for during the past 13 years and I'm enjoying every moment. I think we are in with a good chance in the race.”

But despite his impressive debut, the reigning GP2 champion refused to be drawn on his race prospects. “Basically I want to get a good start and then work hard to score as many points for the team and myself,” he added. “I'm not going to make any predictions because anything can happen but so far so good."

Alonso was delighted that his new team mate will be in a position to back him up on Sunday afternoon, while pole-sitting rival Kimi Raikkonen will have to do without such support after Felipe Massa’s Ferrari suffered gearbox problems.

“I'm pleased that Lewis is right up there with me which puts us both in the best position to score points for ourselves and the team,” said the champion. “I can't wait for the race."

The two other 2007 Formula One rookies experienced mixed fortunes in qualifying. At Renault, Heikki Kovalainen finished 13th - seven places down on team leader Giancarlo Fisichella - after losing valuable track time with technical problems in practice, while at Spyker, Adrian Sutil comfortably outpaced team mate Christijan Albers as he finished 21st on his debut with the Dutch team.