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Hamilton draws first blood with pole in Melbourne 15 Mar 2008

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 15 March 2008 Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.08.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 14 March 2008 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB4.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 15 March 2008 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F2008.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 15 March 2008

On a day that Ferrari might prefer to forget, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton opened his 2008 world championship challenge by grabbing pole position for the Australian Grand Prix from a super-impressive Robert Kubica in the BMW Sauber.

With Kimi Raikkonen already sidelined after fuel pump problems in Q2, team mate Felipe Massa had to uphold Ferrari honour alone in Q3, but after recording 1m 27.178s on his first run, he failed to improve on his second. Kubica, meanwhile, was on a blinder that resulted in 1m 26.869s even though he ran wide in Turn Nine. The Pole kept his foot in it and didn’t appear to lose an awful lot of time, and planted his BMW Sauber on the front row for the first time in his career.

Hamilton’s smoother 1m 26.714s, however, was good enough to settle the issue and to give the Briton his seventh career pole. €t was a good day for McLaren, with Heikki Kovalainen taking third, ahead of Massa, with 1m 27.079s.

Nick Heidfeld’s 1m 27.236s was good enough for fifth in the second BMW Sauber, then came Jarno Trulli’s Toyota on 1m 28.527s, Nico Rosberg’s Williams on 1m 28.687s, David Coulthard’s Red Bull on 1m 29.041s and Timo Glock’s Toyota on 1m 29.593s. Sebastian Vettel made it through to Q3 for Toro Rosso, but was unfortunate to suffer mechanical problems on his first out lap, and thus starts tenth with no time.

Q2 got off to a bang when Mark Webber spun his Red Bull in Turn 6 after a suspected front-right brake failure and momentarily brought out the red flag. That coincided with the news that, having trickled as far as the pit-lane entry with a dud Ferrari in Q1, Raikkonen was not allowed under Article 33.2 of the Sporting Regulations to take any further part in qualifying, as his car had effectively stopped on circuit. Thus Webber automatically took P15, Raikkonen P16.

The session also saw the demise of the Hondas, Rubens Barrichello finishing 11th on 1m 26.173s and Jenson Button 13th on 1m 26.259s; Fernando Alonso’s Renault on 1m 26.188s, and Kazuki Nakajima’s Williams on 1m 26.413s.

Q1 weeded out both Force €ndias, Giancarlo Fisichella just missing the cut with 1m 27.207s and Adrian Sutil spinning in his efforts to better 1m 27.859s, which left him 19th. Between them was debutant Sebastien Bourdais, who took his Toro Rosso round in 1m 27.446s.

Likewise, the Super Aguris were split. Takuma Sato was 20th with 1m 28.208s, ahead of Renault's Nelson Piquet Jnr who continued to struggle to 1m 28.330s, and Anthony Davidson on 1m 29.059s.