Hamilton takes pole for Australian Grand Prix

March 15th, 2008 - 2:37 pm ICT by admin  

Melbourne, March 15 (DPA) McLaren-Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton Saturday took pole position for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. The Briton, who last season finished second in the drivers’ standings as a rookie, posted a time of one minute 26.714 seconds for the 5.303 kilometres lap on the Albert Park course.

World champion Kimi Raikkonen, who last year won the Grand Prix in his maiden race for Ferrari, will start the race from 16th place on the grid after being eliminated in the first round of qualifying after his car stopped on the track during the first round of qualifying.

The Finn had posted a time that would have allowed him to drive in the second round of qualifying, but the rules stipulate that a car that fails to finish a lap - irrespective of whether they had earlier posted a time - is not allowed into the next round of qualifying.

Starting alongside Hamilton will be Robert Kubica, who surprised in his BMW-Sauber with an excellent second place in the qualifying and would have even managed a pole had he not made a small mistake at the end of his fast lap.

Hamilton’s team-mate Heikki Kovalainen and Ferrari driver Felipe Massa will be starting from the second row after posting the third and fourth fastest time respectively.

Hamilton said that he was not satisfied with his performance. “I can do better. You can always do better. I am happy that I achieved the pole position, but there is room for improvement. Now we will have to see what happens in the race.”

BMW race director Mario Theissen, admitted that he had not thought that his side would do so well. “Second and fifth place on the grid is a great achievement.

“Robert Kubica could have even been on pole had he not made a small mistake during his lap, so there is reason for us to be satisfied.”

Germany’s Nick Heidfeld established a new qualifying record. The BMW driver, who finished fifth on the day, managed to qualify for the third qualifying round for the 23rd consecutive time, beating two- time world champion Fernando Alonso, who had 22 consecutive top ten qualifying finishes ahead of Saturday’s session.

The German, who said that he hoped he would still finish ahead of his team-mate in Sunday’s race, will start alongside Jarno Trulli in a Toyota.

Williams’ Nick Rosberg had the seventh-fastest time, while David Coulthard in a Red Bull was eighth.

German Timo Glock in the second Toyota and his compatriot Sebastian Vettel in a Torro Rossi complete the top ten, but Glock will start from 14th on the grid after undertaking some changes to his car.

Local hero Mark Webber in a Red Bull spun out in a corner in the first minute of the second round of qualifying and was also eliminated on the basis of the same rule.

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